Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

Archived from (now offline)

The Shadow Series

Part 1: How to Spot the Shadow

Ken Wilber

June 15, 2006 09:25

How can we start to recognize our own shadows? I promised in previous blogs that I would post two chapters from No Boundary on how to recognize, and begin to re-integrate, one's shadow. I am actually going to post several items from different sources—at least three major ones to start with. Here is a chapter from No Boundary, which contains some very practical suggestions and exercises for spotting and re-owning one's shadow. Click here for the chapter in pdf form. This is only one of many ways that an individual can begin to confront and deal with shadow material, if he or she so wishes.

What we are trying to do at I-I is create a space where individuals can fly at a turquoise altitude, if that's what they can and want to do. In order for that to happen, turquoise responses need to be protected from unwarranted and unfair first-tier attacks. Let me repeat, as I have dozens of times, that if you really dislike the Wyatt Earpy blogs, that does NOT necessarily mean you are first-tier. You can be at second tier and have strong reservations about those blogs, and I myself posted several emails that did exactly that. But it does mean that if you are at green, you will almost certainly react in negative ways (first, because green sees yellow/turquoise in general as being arrogant; and second, in addition to that general altitude negativity, the language of Part 1 is offensive to green, not because it's dirty but because it's judgmental, and nobody except green is allowed to make judgments). So not all negative responses are green, but almost all green responses are negative.

But it's more interesting and complicated than that, because of the phenomena of “levels and lines”—namely, you can be at different levels of development in different lines of development. People excel in some multiple intelligences, but not in others. You might be highly developed in some lines (e.g., cognitive), medium in others (e.g., emotional), and low in yet others (e.g., moral).

Most educated adults are capable of a teal or turquoise level of cognition; but of those who have turquoise cognition, their self or center-of-gravity might be at turquoise, or green, or orange. So you can be turquoise or second tier in your cognition—your “talk”—but your center-of-gravity—your “walk”—might be at several different levels, orange to green to turquoise itself. In general, those with a center-of-gravity at turquoise are about 0.5% of the population; green, about 25% of the population; and orange, about 40% of the population.

But what this really means is that, no matter what your center-of-gravity might be (orange or green or turquoise), you can light up turquoise cognition, and every time you do, it acts as a magnet on the other lines, helping to pull them up as well. And you light up turquoise whenever you use a second-tier model, such as AQAL, and begin to think about how it might apply to any situation. Even better is to use AQAL as an integral praxis or practice, but simply thinking about it and talking about it (or blogging about it) will light up turquoise and help you move more permanently to that wave.

In order to help with this, the forums and blogs at I-I that are moderated have, or will soon have, what we call “Road Rules.” These are forum guidelines that help light up turquoise or second-tier awareness. We already use these in our workshops and seminars. Here are some examples:

--“Let the next sentence out of my mouth be integral or second tier.”

However you understand integral, please write or speak from that level or altitude. You will be setting an example for others, and you will judged by others based on how well and how often you speak and act integrally. As for the criteria that are used for “judging,” at least a dozen well-known developmental models are used, and professionals who work with those models in the field will be giving us suggestions here.

The point here is that, even if you are afraid that your center of gravity is orange or green, you can still think turquoise, you can still talk turquoise, you can still light up turquoise, and the Road Rules help you respond integrally by helping you talk turquoise. The more your talk is second tier, the sooner your walk will be.

The fact that you have a really strong interest in Integral Theory already shows that you have at least turquoise cognition, virtually guaranteed. Your center of gravity might be orange or green, or it might be turquoise, but by being in a space that encourages you to think and post turquoise, it helps you—it helps all of us—rise to our own highest occasion.

If somebody consistently and belligerently responds from first tier (showing that they are not only acting first-tier but thinking first-tier), they might indeed be asked to step down from that moderated forum. We have other (unmoderated) places they can play, but not on these moderated forums, where we promise each and every one of you that we will do our best to create a turquoise common space. What else is the point of I-I????

Here's another Road Rule:

“Any time that you are not sure whether you are being integral or not, turquoise or not, second tier or not, then feel the thinker; be aware of the thinker.”

Every time you are aware of the thinker, you make the subject object, which is the definition of development and transcendence (“the subject of one stage becomes the object of the subject of the next”). This rule—feel the thinker, feel the self-contraction—actually engages third-tier Witnessing. It reminds you and me to be aware of ever-present I AMness, the True Self, in which the entire world is arising. (See Part 2 of the Wyatt blog for an experiential exercise to awaken I AMness.)

Here's another one:

“Are there any of my shadow elements in any of my sentences or posts?”

Notice this does not say, “Am I aware of any shadow elements in other people's posts?” We are not allowed to shadow hunt our way through integral forums. We have to clean our own house first. There are specific forums in the critics' circle where all sorts of criticisms are allowed and encouraged. But threaded discussions in general are not for shadow-boxing.

Those who do feel that they have shadow elements that should be addressed, or at least acknowledged, are already taking The Shadow Challenge, which is the name of the overall shadow-spotting and shadow-addressing material that is part of I-I's attempt to provide authentic commons spaces, not those clogged with shadow elements. The Shadow Challenge is the invitation to take advantage of that material as it is made available.

In order to help spot shadow elements, we will have several helpful aids, such as the following chapter from No Boundary which deals with just that topic. Please click here .

The Wyatt Posts:

  1. What We Are, That We See. Part I: Response to Some Recent Criticism in a Wild West Fashion
  2. What We Are, That We See. Part II: What is the Real Meaning of This?
  3. Take the Visser Site as Alternatives to KW, But Never as the Views of KW

Follow-Up Posts:

  1. The Unbearable Lightness of Wyatt Earpy. Follow-Up #1.
  2. On the Nature of Shadow Projections in Forums. Follow-Up #2.
  3. What Would Wyatt Do? Follow-Up #3.

The Shadow Series:

  1. The Shadow Series. Part 1: How to Spot the Shadow.
  2. The Shadow Series. Part 2: Integrating the Shadow.
  3. The Shadow Series. Part 3: A Working Synthesis of Transactional Analysis and Gestalt Therapy.

Check out: The Wild West Wilber Report: Looking back on the Wyatt Earp Episode

Comment Form is loading comments...