INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
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THE HUMAN GROWTH
Vectors of growth
Individual/ Body-Psyche-Spirit Passages
Individual/ Life Passages
Collective/ Body-Psyche-Spirit Passages
Collective/ Life Passages
Directions of growth
External development occurs in only one Direction – as our Life Passages proceed inexorably from infancy through old age. Internal growth in psyche, body, and spirit, however, takes place in two opposite Directions – ascending and descending. Thus, in each internal Realm of development, we actually evolve toward two opposite states of consciousness:
Upward toward Achievement
Downward toward Fulfillment
Upward toward Aliveness
Downward toward Grounding
Upward toward Maturity
Downward toward Authenticity
Upward toward Enlightenment
Downward toward Compassion
Ex: “As I grow up, I develop psychologically in two very different, but complementary ways. I become more mature mentally and emotionally. At the same time, I slough off false identities, and become progressively more authentic.”
The Growth Continuum, then, is best characterized, not as a single upward trajectory, but as a cyclic movement between two opposites. According to many religious and philosophical perspectives, these opposites are manifestations of fundamental Polarities of the universe – male and female, mind and body, spirit and flesh, symbol and meaning, yang and yin. As healthy human beings, we embrace, actualize, and integrate both Polarities and all intervening Stages – moving fluidly up and down the developmental column in a rhythmic ebb and flow.
As basically healthy people, we grow by actualizing our human potential. But as people with our normal share of problems, we grow by resolving those problems.
Ex: “My career and my financial life are going well -- but I’m working to release blocks, so I can express my emotions more freely.”
When growth Processes are applied to so-called ‘normal’ people, they are described in terms of the Wellness Model -- as ‘experiences’ and ‘explorations’ in ‘human potential,’ ‘self-actualization,’ or ‘personal evolution.’ When such Processes are applied to people who are viewed as ‘having problems,’ they are described in terms of the Medical Model -- as ‘therapies’ or ‘treatments’ of ‘neuroses,’ ‘pathologies,’ or ‘mental illness.’
Problems, or Impediments, are all the ways the growth process can go wrong. In every Dimension, Impediments can cause the growth process to be distorted, neglected, split off, repressed, denied, ignored, or avoided. Thus, for every Dimension of the Growth Continuum, there is a corresponding Impediment – as outlined below:
We can avoid, or fail to confront, the challenges that are inherent in a given Stage of development.
Ex: “As a young adult, I’ve been putting off seeking a challenging job.”
Or, in facing those challenges, we may fail to surmount them.
Ex: “As a young adult, I found a job I liked, but got fired for irresponsibility.”
If severely challenged or thwarted, we may regress back to a previous Stage – or shift our efforts to another Realm or Arena entirely.
Ex: “I’m thinking of going back to school, so my parents will take care of me.”
We may have trouble relinquishing the comforts of a prior Stage.
Ex: “As a Mid-lifer in Transition, I’m reluctant to give up the perks of wealth and success.”
Or, we may have difficulty facing the challenges of the new Stage.
Ex: “As a Mid-lifer, it’s too painful to resurrect all those long-buried dreams and aspirations of my youth.”
Among Impediments, some of the most insidious and tenacious are those of the Transition Cycle. Problems may develop in any of the four phases:
Weak bonding (vs.
Identification). Our identification or bonding to the initial Stage may be
weak or tenuous. Thus, we can lack a solid platform from which to move forward
with confidence and strength.
Ex: “I’m an insecure baby.”
Differentiation). We may cling to the old Stage, failing to Differentiate –
remaining fixated, fused, embedded, arrested.
Ex: “I won’t give up my babyhood.”
(vs. Re-identification). We may fail to establish a solid bond or commitment
to the new Stage – thereby leaving ourselves disattached, alienated, fragmented,
rootless, homeless, in limbo.
Ex: “I’m no longer a baby, but I can’t cope with the challenges of toddlerhood.”
Integration). We may dissociate ourselves from the prior Stage – avoiding,
denying, repressing, or disowning the Observed Self. We may thereby force it
underground, creating an inner saboteur, or Gremlin, with all the classic symptoms
Ex: “I’m a toddler, but want to forget how unpleasant it was being a baby.”
We may concentrate on the Realms and Arenas we do best at, and ignore the ones where we have trouble succeeding.
Ex, Realms: “I tend to avoid the practical issues in the Realm of Real Life. I prefer to live my life in the Realms of Psyche and Spirit.”
Ex, Arenas: “In the psychological Arenas, I’m great at feelings and relationships, but I avoid thinking and expressing opinions, because I’m afraid of embarrassing myself.”
We may also experience Inter-Passage Impediments. We may never build an adequate Persona for dealing with the external Realm of Real Life.
Ex: “My Mom always remained a little girl, and just let Dad take care of everything practical for her.”
Or, we may cling to that Persona, failing to return to the internal Realms of our True Self.
Ex: “My Dad became so practical, he never found out what he really wanted from life.”
We may know our own mind, but never be able to function in groups.
Ex: “I’ve always been a maverick, who did things in his own time in his own way. I never did well in team activities.”
Or we may always follow the crowd, and never be able to speak up for ourselves.
Ex: “I don’t seem to know what I want, unless I ask someone else’s opinion.”
We may have problems with our Enneagram Role. We may fail to recognize and live within our innate Role.
Ex: “I’m embarrassed at being an ambitious, competitive Achiever, and have always longed to be an idealistic Reformer.”
Or, we may accept our Role, but fail to evolve within it.
Ex: “I’m a principled, crusading Reformer, but I always alienate others because I’m rigid, hostile, and judgmental.”
The Generational Cycle may be disrupted by social catastrophe.
Ex: “The Generational Cycle in 18th Century America was aborted – when so many hopeful, loyal, patriotic Civics were wiped out in the Civil War.”
Or, the Generational Cycle may lapse altogether (‘de-generate’), if the culture slips into static, non-progressive behavior – perhaps as a result of political-economic difficulties and/or loss of vision.
Ex: “The Golden Age of Israel progressed from Samuel (Prophetic), to Saul (Reactive), to David (Civic), to Solomon (Bureaucratic) – but then rapidly fragmented and degenerated as a result of Solomon’s excesses.”
We may emphasize a single Vector, at the expense of the other three.
Ex: “I’m concerned with the betterment of mankind through social change, so I ignore the personal needs and desires of both myself and my family.”
We may be all-head -- over-emphasizing the exhilaration of the ascending Direction of growth.
Ex: “As an enlightened meditator, I am filled with compassion for humanity, but don’t actually care much for individuals.”
Or we may be all-feelings -- over-indulging in the comforts of the descending Direction.
Ex: “As a gifted thinker, I can solve differential equations in my head, but have trouble tying my shoelaces.”
We may exploit our strongest, most lavishly-rewarded Talents, while neglecting or avoiding our weakest, or least-rewarded attributes. As a result, our constitution may become over-developed in one area (say, career) – with all the attendant stress and exhaustion to our systems – while our other capabilities (say, emotions) may atrophy through under-use.
Ex: “I have lots of psychological self-knowledge, and a pretty solid spiritual path, but I can’t find a satisfying job or maintain a long-term relationship.”
Alternatively, we may become content with mediocrity -- never developing any of our gifts to a level approaching their potential.
Ex: “I could have become a successful concert pianist, but because of my inheritance, I never had to try my hardest at anything.”
We grow by coordinating all the other Dimensions of growth into balanced, harmonious whole.
Ex: “It’s important to me to balance my material achievements with physical vigor and psychological maturity.”
Through luck, diligence, and inspired intuition, we endeavor to weave together the diverse strands of our development – the challenging Stages we pass through, the harrowing Transitions we overcome, the magical Realms we explore, the busy Arenas where we conduct daily life, the contending Participants who share our journey, the Vectors and Directions we travel, the Problems we ultimately hope to resolve. The multi-dimensioned fabric that results is our life.
From Theory to Real Life
The human Growth Continuum consists of eight Dimensions – Stages, Transitions, Realms, Arenas, Participants, Vectors/directions, Therapeutic growth, and Coordination. As distinct and diverse as they are, all eight Dimensions weave and interlace together in a single, grand, comprehensive process. In all forms of growth, we develop through alternating phases of Stage and Transition – in an undulating flow of placid equilibrium, turbulent disequilibrium, and restored equilibrium. This pulsing flow takes place on the broadest scale in the great Realms of consciousness, then on the more immediate and specific scale of life’s numerous Arenas. There are various entities, both individual and collective, who participate in the flow. The flow is of a cyclic nature, involving various Vectors and Directions. Sometimes our access to the flow is impeded, diverted, or blocked – so we need Therapeutic growth to get us back on track. And finally, we must orchestrate the various strands, so they all work together. This is the miracle of growth. It is complex, intricate, multi-faceted, at times almost chaotic – yet it all resonates, harmonizes, and coheres – flowing as a unity toward maturity, health, fulfillment, and enlightenment.
The present article has established the theoretical groundwork for understanding human growth. In our companion article, The Processes of Human Growth [in preparation as of April 2007], we bring this theorizing to fruition. There, we describe the 32 Processes that human beings have devised over the centuries to grow, develop, and evolve. We outline the specific Modalities (techniques, programs) used within each Process – and show tangible, practical examples of how such Processes and Modalities may be applied to your practice, and to your life. In a second companion article, The Processes in Real Life [also in preparation], we present detailed experiential examples showing how each Process looks and feels in real-life situations. We encourage you to continue with us on this exciting and rewarding journey.
 Cf. Ray (2000).
 Of course, this comparison is an exaggerated, tongue-in-cheek caricature, designed to engage the reader and illustrate a point. There are, of course, many fine people who lead such exemplary lives they have little need to grow. Conversely, there are many so-called Creatives whose pretensions to enlightenment are embarrassing. One’s ideological camp is never an adequate indicator of one’s value as a human being.
 The major source referenced in this presentation is Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychology (Wilber 2000) (‘IP’). For additional Wilber sources, see Appendix B, Resources for Study.. Wilber’s approach to the practicalities of growth will be explored in greater detail in our companion article, Processes.
 See also: Stage Impediments, page 17.
 Referred to variously by Wilber as Levels, Waves, Spheres, Nests, Holistic Patterns (Wilber 2000: 7).
 Wilber tends to disparage Translation, in comparison to Transformation: “Transformation. . . is a type of vertical shift or even mutation in consciousness structures, while Translation is a simple horizontal movement within a given structure. . . Translation. . . is moving around on one floor; transformation is moving to a different floor altogether.” (Wilber 1981: 71)
However, according to our model, human growth is an alternating series of Stages and Transitions – of Translational phases succeeded by Transformational phases. Since Translation and Transformation are links in the same sequence, each is equally essential (and equally challenging) in the overall growth process. As with the tottering infant learning to walk, experimentation and practice on one flat ‘floor’ is as essential to growth as ‘climbing the stairs’ to the next level of development.
Compare Life Passages footnote, page 9.
 See also: Transition Impediments, page 17.
 Described as Transformation by Wilber. See above Thanslation footnote.
 The Transition Cycle is comparable to Wilber’s term Fulcrum – which consists of three phases: differentiation, identification, and integration (Wilber 2000: 93. See also Wilber 2000: 35-36, 92-108, Wilber 1996, 131). (See Transition Cycle Impediments, page 17.)
In his discussion of Fulcrums, Wilber tends to conflate the two separate phases of Stage and Transition by equating two terms which are really quite different: Fulcrum (pivot point, i.e. Transition) and Milestone (intermediary destination or achievement, i.e. Stage).
 Embedding terminology from Kegan (1992). (See Wilber 2000: 42-43.)
 For definitions of the Experienced Self and the Observed Self, see Participants section, page 12.
 For a clear example of this two-phase pattern, see the Stages and Transitions columns of Table 1, Life Passages.
 For an explanation, see Realm Growth, page 9.
 The FDS corresponds to Wilber’s Correlative Structures -- second-to-left column of each Integral Psychology Table (Wilber 2000: 197-217).
 Although characterized as a neat, ladder-like progression, growth is, of course, a very ‘messy affair’ – with the Self wandering all over the behavioral map (from mature to infantile) from one moment to the next. The bell curve of our actions and attitudes will tend to hover around a particular Dominant Stage – with perhaps half our actions emanating from that Stage, and perhaps a quarter ranging to either side of it (Wilber 2000: 35-36). Likewise, the number, order, and character of developmental Steps is somewhat arbitrary and subjective. As Wilber points out, “. . . all such cartographies are simply different approaches to the many waves in the great River of Life, matter to mind to spirit, which is the most precious legacy of ancient wisdom.” (Wilber 2000: 190).
 What Wilber calls ‘functional groupings’ (Wilber 2000: 18).
 See Chakra section in Realm Growth, page 10.
 See also: Realm and Arena Impediments, page 18
 Referred to variously by Wilber as Realms, Planes, Domains, Spheres, and Axes (Wilber 2000: 7, 237). Wilber’s emphasis is almost exclusively on the Realms of Psyche and Spirit.
 Wilber’s basic Great Nest model describes the fundamental structure of reality – a series of nested wholes (Holons) of increasing complexity. Wilber’s developmental system then applies those Holons to human growth – tracing development through a series of physical, psychological, and spiritual stages. So far, so good. However, once formed, Wilber’s system appears to portray our interior architecture of Body, Psyche, and Spirit as an ‘archeology,’ where one layer is stacked on one another in a single, continuous progression. (Wilber 2000: 102-8)
However (as we see it), in the evolutionary process of increasing complexity, each Realm was not built over the last, like layers of an archeological dig, but was added to the existing ‘architectural’ structure as another level of Functionality. (Literally, a case of ‘transcend and include’!) That is, the seven Chakral regions – originally only physical – took on psychological and spiritual functions as humans evolved. This distinction alters the whole strategy of personal growth or therapeutic treatment. With a layered or ‘stacked’ model (Wilber’s), the Realms of Body, Mind, and Spirit are dealt with sequentially. With a Multiple-Functionality model (WLM), all three Realms are addressed simultaneously, because they are structurally inseparable. (See Chakra section of Realm Growth, page 10, for further exploration of this interpretation.)
The two views are not so contradictory as they may seem – just the same reality seen from two different perspectives. At the core, Wilber is describing a systems-oriented theory of knowledge (from the lower-right perspective), while the Whole Life Model is describing a process-oriented approach personal growth (from the upper-left perspective). Thus, the system itself does move sequentially toward increasing complexity. However, the therapeutic process for achieving such complexity is, we believe, not sequential but simultaneous.
 Wilber largely ignores external Life Passages, relegating them to the status of ‘horizontal translation.’ Regarding Daniel Levinson’s influential The Seasons of a Man’s Life, for example, he comments, “Several stage conceptions, such as Levinson’s, deal with the ‘seasons’ of horizontal translation, not stages of vertical transformation” (Wilber 2000: 227). Neither Levinson nor his prolific popularizer, Gail Sheehey, rate even an index reference in Integral Psychology.
However, as we see it, Life Passages -- as with the other three Realms -- consists of alternating phases of Translation (Stages) and Transformation (Transitions). Thus, Life Passages – though by definition more superficial – is just one more Realm in which ‘true growth’ takes place. (See discussion of Stage and Transition growth, page 7.)
 The concept of Psyche is a composite for all the mental experiences that occur within the human brain and nervous system – urges, emotions, routines, creativity, thought, and so forth. The Psyche, in other words, comprises all the subjects in the field of psychology, or ‘psyche-logy.’
 Wilber (1996), 182-86, 191-93, 199-210. Wilber calls these States nature mysticism (psychic), deity mysticism (subtle), formless mysticism (causal), and non-dual mysticism.
 See Myss (1996).
 See Judith (1996), Brennan (1998), and Easley (2006) in Resources Appendix.
 See Fundamental Developmental Sequence (FDS), page 8.
 Wilber’s categorizaton of the Chakras relative to the FDS differs considerably from the traditional placement. See Table 2, The FDS and the Chakras, for a side-by-side comparison.
 See also: Realm & Arena Impediments, page 18.
 Although Wilber has no term comparable to Arena, he does sometimes group his Lines into Arena-like clusters – as seen in his tables for Cognition, Self-development, and Morals. (Wilber 2000: 201-02, 203-05, and 206-08, respectively.
 See also: Participant Impediments, page 19.
 Wilber (2000), 33-35, 91.
 Wilber’s ‘Proximate Self.’ Wilber (2000), 91, 197, 225. Related to what Wilber calls ‘Self-sense.’
 Wilber’s ‘Distal Self.’ Related to what Wilber calls ‘Self-system.’
 Wilber (1996), 199-210. Referred to variously by Wilber as: ultimate subject, pure consciousness, antecedent self, emptiness.
 See Transition Cycle, page 8.
 As Wilber poetically describes it, “. . . the Proximate Self. . . is the navigator through the basic waves in the Great Nest of Being.” (Wilber 2000: 35) As seen in our discussion of the Transition Cycle (page 8), both aspects of the Immediate Self are central participants in the growth process.
 Wilber refers to the combination of Proximate and Distal as the Overall Self (Wilber 2000: 33), and has no term for the composite of all three Selves.
 See Inter-Passage Growth below, page 13.
 From our perspective, a Persona is not Stage-specific, but can be created at any Stage of development to deal with real-life circumstances. Wilber uses Persona in a more restricted sense, to refer specifically to the Membership-Self (conformist Role-Self) or to the Rule/Role region of his Correlative Structures (steps 12-18 in the FDS). (See Wilber 2000: 91, 126, 240-41, and 198 self-sense column)
 The Enneagram Roles are examples of true horizontal equivalence – since each of the nine Roles exist on the same hierarchical level, and each can undergo comparable Stages of development. (Compare Wilber’s reference to Translation in Life Passages footnote, page 9, and in Stage Growth footnote, page 7.)
 Wilber rightly criticizes the Pre-/Trans- Fallacy – the notion that spiritual Enlightenment is equivalent to a return to an idealized, womblike Eden of early childhood. In our model, the Self returns to an internal state that is radically matured from its original condition.
For a discussion of the Enneagram from the perspective of Essence, see Almaas (1998).
 Wilber particularly notes this phenomenon in the spiritual realm (Wilber 2000: 126, 141-42, 266), although it can be observed in all three internal Passages.
 See Rowan (1990).
 Wilber (2000), 100-02, 246-47. For the effect of Gremlins on growth, see Transition Cycle, page 8, and Transition Cycle Impediments, page 17. Term originates from Richard D. Carson, Taming Your Gremlin (1986).
 Wilber (2000), 101.
 In discussing Collective Participants, Wilber’s emphasis is almost exclusively on Cultures. See Wilber (2000), 145-49, 154-55.
 See Beck (1996).
 Strauss and Howe (1991).
 See also: Vector & Direction Impediments, page 19.
 See Participants section, page 11.
 See Realms section, page 9.
 The Vectors correspond closely to Wilber’s four Quadrants of Integral Theory. We prefer the term Vector, because it conveys the dynamic and directional quality of each Quadrant. The four Quadrants of Wilber’s Great Nest represent the four fundamental domains of reality. (See Wilber 1996, 64-68 and all Wilber writings since 1995.)
 Wilber acknowledges both Directions, which he calls Evolution and Involution (Wilber 2000: 110-11, 190, 251). However, throughout his work, Wilber’s strong emphasis is toward the ascending Vector.
 Wilber discusses both therapeutic and normal growth in his writings. Integral Psychology, for example, deals largely with therapeutic growth (Wilber 2000: 92-100, 102-10), with a short section devoted to growth practices for normal people (Wilber 2000: 112-14). Integral Spirituality concentrates on normal or evolved growth (Wilber 2006: 201-10). Wilber’s approaches to growth will be discussed more fully in Processes.
 See Stage Growth, page 7.
 See Transition Growth, page 7.
 Wilber (2000), 92-108, 246-47. (See also Transition Cycle, page 8.)
 For a discussion of Gremlins, see Sub-personalities section, page 14.
 See Realm Growth, page 9, and Arena Growth, page 11.
 See Participant Growth, page 11.
 See Vector & Direction Growth, page 15.
 See Coordination Growth below, page 20
 See Coordination Impediments above, page 19