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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joseph DillardDr. Joseph Dillard is a psychotherapist with over forty year's clinical experience treating individual, couple, and family issues. Dr. Dillard also has extensive experience with pain management and meditation training. The creator of Integral Deep Listening (IDL), Dr. Dillard is the author of over ten books on IDL, dreaming, nightmares, and meditation. He lives in Berlin, Germany. See: and his YouTube channel.


Just a Glitch in the Matrix

Joseph Dillard

Am I just a lonely, pedantic voice howling at the wind, or pissing into it, signifying nothing? Am I just jousting at windmills?

Sometimes I wonder, “Do I live in a parallel universe?” What is this experience, of being appalled at being a citizen of a nation, the US, a product of a civilization, called the West, and a member of a worldview called integral? Is this rationality or diagnosable self-hatred?

What is this experience, of embracing all these things and the values they represent, notably including democracy, human rights, self-development, progress, spirituality, egalitarianism, and pluralism, while at the same time knowing I live in what is functionally an oligarchy, in which elites can take me into war, including a world-annihilating nuclear war, at any moment, without my consent? A reality in which widespread corruption goes unpunished, in which astronomical debt doesn't matter? A world civilization which embraces high values and moral superiority while arming, supporting, and justifying fascism, neo-Nazism, and genocide?

Could I really be living in a world in which liberals and progressives are the ones demanding censorship in the US, Germany, the UK, France, and Brussels? Could it really be that I live in a world in which all these inherent contradictions co-exist, in which, for instance, adjustment, adaptation, and “normalcy” means acceptance and indifference toward daily news of willful massive starvations and massacres of children, done in my name, by forces declaring their concern for humanity?

I am fairly certain I am not asleep and dreaming, because every so often there are both reassuring and disturbing cracks in the matrix, like news that thousands of people continue to march in cities all over the world, in protests of the ongoing genocide in Gaza, because I do sometimes get news that another Ukrainian street or school has been named after a collaborator with the Third Reich, that oppositional parties have been outlawed and elections called off.

I do indeed discover people who are far more intelligent than me who declare, “No, it is not anti-Semitic to view Zionism as a racist horror. There really is a genocide being conducted by a democracy, Israel, with the ongoing support of the world's other major democracies. We really are complicit in a barbaric inhumanity right up there with that conducted by Nazi Germany, that you were taught was the incarnation of evil.”

There are integralists out there that can and will tell me that I really am being asked - no, required - to accept as normal, the support of a state that has as its national hero Stephan Bandera, who oversaw the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews, Poles, and Russians and that clearly and blatantly glorifies Nazism. They tell me that I must support an ongoing genocide or else risk being labeled anti-Semitic, risk prosecution for discrimination and “hate crimes,” and risk the loss of employment.

I have to struggle to stay aware of such data points disrupting the matrix. The priorities of daily life and the narratives of the zeitgeist that defines my world, together conspire to bring into question which of these realities is real and which is not, or, more importantly, which of these two realities is true and moral and which is an evil lie.

Then I look at people in integral leadership, people I admire for their notable intelligence, multi-perspectivalism, talent, and compassion, I too often see what appears to be studied indifference regarding these things, as if morality, justice, and murder really are multi-perspectival too. It is as if, in the name of integral multi-perspectivalism, all principles have been relativized and contextualized in a post-modern house of mirrors, a world in which the search for personal enlightenment is as important, perhaps more so, than complicity in the ongoing murder of children for the crime of being born in the wrong place at the wrong time to the wrong parents.

I then listen to the long litany of rationalizations, justifications, and attempts at redirection that some fellow integralists drag out: Terrorism! Anti-semitism! Authoritarianism! Genocides by China! Communism! Putin! AI! Trump! The inevitability of human nature! What do any of these have to do with personal accountability, justice, and responsibility for crimes done in my name, with my implicit consent?” Perhaps my favorite is the Israeli settler who said, “If I don't steal this house, someone else will.” It resonates rather closely with the argument that if we hadn't colonized, exploited, and built empire, someone else would. “If criminality is inevitable, it's better to be done by me and mine.” Really? Hello?

Then I wonder, “Am I just virtue signaling? Am I setting myself up as more moral than you? Am I demanding of integral that it accept my definition of justice, spirituality, morality, and humanity? Am I just a lonely, pedantic voice howling at the wind, or pissing into it, signifying nothing? Am I just jousting at windmills?”

I am not ignorant of the forces arrayed against the West and what it stands for. I was raised in the West and was continuously instructed regarding its numerous strengths and warned of the numerous evils that it courageously fought for justice and humanity. If you disagree with me, don't start by assuming I am unaware of critical data points.

I don't claim to be morally superior to anyone. I don't think I am 2nd Tier or particularly spiritual. I think I am solidly mid-prepersonal in my overall development despite some degree of multi-perspectivalism and some competencies here and there.

While I am continuously surprised at the lack of agreement among integralists about what is humane and acceptable behavior on the one hand, and inhumane and unacceptable behavior on the other, I don't demand or expect other integralists to agree with me. I know I grow more from those who challenge my beliefs, assumptions, and perspectives than I do from those who are part of my echo chamber.

Just who are the inmates and who are the wardens? Who are the insane and who are the doctors? Who represents humanity and who represents inhumanity? While manichaeistic dualisms generate false oppositions, at some point trotting out “it's complicated,” appeals to multi-perspectivalism, and “contextualization” simply become sophisticated justifications, just more ways to avoid responsibility, accountability, and justice.

Children, in order to grow up and become healthy adults, require responsibility, accountability, and some degree of justice in how they are treated. Adults don't outgrow those needs. You and I and our governments require responsibility, accountability, and justice. When they stop being requirements, compelled by social norms and law, no amount of spiritual or integral gloss can paper over the stench and rot of the death of humanity, of basic human decency.

We are being lied to by well-meaning, intelligent people who have sold out. We either call out the lies or sell out too, and be rightly judged as doing so by future generations. Both Faust and Mephistopheles understand our dilemma.

Just who are the inmates and who are the wardens? Who are the insane and who are the doctors? Who represents humanity and who represents inhumanity?

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