The word “integral” , derived from the Latin “ integer” or “whole ”, is now commonly used to denote the emerging worldview.
Indeed, a global vision that honours the whole, as well as the distinct parts that make it up, could be deemed not only desirable, but necessary.
/intigr l, in teggr l/
1. Necessary; constituent;
2. Made up of parts;
Many have used the term and contributed to the ‘integral’ thoughtform, but among contemporary western writers the work of Ken Wilber probably offers the most comprehensive and accessible articulation of this vision. (For an overview of the subject, Wilber’s book, Eye of Spirit, is an essential read. Published by Shambhala, 1997.)
Key Elements of the Integral Vision:
• It recognises the One and the Many
• It is all-quadrant
• It is all-level
• It is timeless and evolutionary
The One and The Many
The vision is both inclusive and discriminatory. It seeks to include all perspectives, appreciating their distinct features without ascribing them equal value. By starting with the assumption that all approaches to truth (including this one) are true but partial, the Integral Vision seeks to locate often contradictory realities within a more comprehensive worldview.
While the Integral Vision recognises that the One is beyond our understanding, it also recognises that the many ways we attempt to comprehend and relate to (and as) the One have a significant effect on our individual and collective experience and behaviour, and therefore must not be overlooked or omitted from a truly integral worldview
The Integral Vision seeks to integrate the various primary ways of perceiving reality:
1. Subjective (inner consciousness)
2. Objective (outer form & behaviour)
The essential thing is that each of these primary pairs must be included in a model in order to comprehensively appreciate any particular event. Suppression or overemphasis of any one quadrant can result in pathology.
It may be useful to remember that the four-fold cross is a universal symbol throughout many cultures and religions, and, in various ageless wisdom traditions, the cross in the circle is a symbol for the earth. (This arrangement is slightly different from Ken Wilber’s, in order to align with other models.)[PLACEHOLDER]
If ‘all-quadrant’ relates to horizontal integration, ‘alllevel’ addresses a vertical dimension of integration. Both form and consciousness, individual and collective, express through different stages or levels of evolutionary development. Each level expresses in the four quadrants, but has features that distinguish it from the one before, and, the one after it.
As an example, we might note the differences between the vegetable, animal and human kingdoms. Further, within humanity itself we can see the differences between pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional thought, and the type of cultures and behaviours associated with each level. By recognising these different stages, the integral vision can appreciate the distinct gifts and liabilities inherent at any stage and avoid a one-size-fits-all worldview.
Development from level-to-level is termed ‘transformation’, while development within any level is termed ‘translation’. As with the quadrants, suppression or over-emphasis of the developmental process can produce problems.
Timeless and Evolutionary
While recognising the sequential development of form and consciousness in time and space, the integral vision also recognises that there is one essential divinity that both pervades all of creation and yet remains outside of it. Whether or not we achieve unity in our diverse expression, we have in reality never left unity. Nothing ever happened! And we are that nothing.
What Next? What is Necessary?
With these 4 key elements in place, where the integral vision comes in for the most flak from the popular culture is in the recognition of developmental levels. They are often perceived as linear, hierarchical and judgmental.
Ken Wilber (pictured right) argues that the suppression of the vertical dimension in the politically correct approach of “let’s treat everyone/thing the same”, creates more problems than it avoids. He claims that the popular culture is reacting to the negative and pathological expression of hierarchy by trying to avoid it all together. (A term more acceptable to many is ‘holarchy’, coined by Koestler, which conveys a more spherical or less linear approach to the same developmental process.)
However, the true irony here (for the critics of the integral vision) is that the capacity to treat everyone as equal, is itself developmental and clearly not universal. On the other hand, those who focus only on the distinction between the levels, often miss the more fluid, permeable process of development that is seen when several levels are viewed together. Consciousness, like light, may perhaps best be understood as both quanta and waves.
Time Magazine recently declared Albert Einstein as the “Man of the Century”. In reading its abridged, theory-of-relativity-for-dummies article, I was struck again with just how difficult it is to truly comprehend the implications of the theory. The easy (and too commonly assumed) interpretation of the Theory of Relativity is that ‘everything is relative’, which is translated in sociological terms as, “every point of view is as valid, or developmentally the same, as any other”. As in physics and sociology, the search for a unified field theory, or “theory of everything” is still underway. Perhaps this century will see a deeper understanding in the ‘maths’ of both.
The real challenge for the integral vision is in the way that it translates into an integral culture. The vision is not newit has been realised by sages and mystics throughout time.
What is new is that the vision is being grasped by significant numbers of individuals and the infrastructures are in place for them to be in contact with each other. And when they do connect, and connecting realise that they never were separate, then what? What happens when the focus is off the diversity and on the unity? What does a unified field suggest? What, at this level of development, is necessary?
Think cosmic, act global
The Good, the True, and the Beautiful Introduction to Integral Vision From, The Eye of Spirit, by Ken Wilber
[PLACEHOLDER PPL IMG]
To understand the whole, it is necessary to understand the parts. To understand the parts, it is necessary to understand the whole. Such is the circle of understanding.
We move from part to whole and back again, and in that dance of comprehension, in that amazing circle of understanding, we come alive to meaning, to value, and to vision:
The very circle of understanding guides our way, weaving together the pieces, healing the fractures, mending the torn and tortured fragments, lighting the way aheadthis extraordinary movement from part to whole and back again, with healing the hallmark of each and every step, and grace the tender reward.
New Zealanders representative of integral vision – Dhaj Sumner and Alan Batham, Nation of Spirit tour hosts in Kaitaia 1-1999.