What is Integral?
The Integral viewpoint is a comprehensive way of looking at the world that attempts to integrate all of human wisdom into a new understanding. The emerging integral stage of human evolution is able to accommodate the gifts of all previous worldviews, including those which have been historically at odds: science and religion, Eastern and Western schools of thought, and pre-modern, modern and post-modern worldviews. It is more loving, inclusive, moral, complex, and just than any previous understandings.
American philosopher and mystic Ken Wilber, integral’s primary proponent and theoretician today, presents a spiritual philosophy of evolution that emphasizes the evolution of consciousness and culture and the place of Spirit as central factors in the process of evolution overall.
We are on the edge of a major cultural transformation, similar to the enlightenment of the 18th century, and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. We can witness the markers of the Integral Age as we see greater degrees of holistic thinking emerging in all areas of life: medicine, politics, relationships, business, parenting, art, spirituality, and community.
The integral worldview offers realistic solutions to the growing global problems that are increasingly threatening human civilization. Every problem in the world can be understood, at least partially, as a problem of consciousness. Solutions to problems, such as environmental degradation and climate change, nuclear proliferation and terrorism, hunger and overpopulation, unregulated globalization and gross inequality, can all be effectively solved by raising the consciousness of a significant number of people and cultures
Here are some of the basic elements of an integral worldview:
Exterior and Interior Evolution
Integral theory says that evolution is evident not only in the physical world, by also in the interior spaces of reality — the development of culture and consciousness.
Through the “network effect” of cultural transmission, when one person or group has a conceptual and/or experiential breakthrough or new realization, this advance can be shared with others. And as new discoveries or new skills are adopted within a larger cultural context, such advances become refined and reinforced. Consciousness and culture—the individual and the group — therefore co-evolve together.
Cultural, as well as individual history, unfolds in identifiable developmental stages. An integral view of history maintains that the collective consciousness of the human race has evolved through pre-modern, modern and post-modern structures, and is emerging into a new structure of consciousness, the integral stage, which is characterized by an ability to think and act from multiple worldviews.
Similar to waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep, we have the capacity to experience deeper states of consciousness. Integral Prayer and contemplation practices foster the development of these mind/heart nonordinary higher states which are sources of connecting to spiritual reality, wisdom, guidance and healing.
Standpoints or perspectives are the place from which we view every situation. The condensed version of these in integral is called the Big Three.
They are: the first person ISpace of subjective viewing from the inside of us; the second person WeSpace of intersubjective viewing from us in relationship to that which is viewed; and the third person ItSpace of objective viewing from the outside of what we are viewing.
Spirituality in integral in reintroduced in an evolved way and made a crucial part of our understanding and experiencing reality. The discoveries of modern science are recognized and integrated. The insights of postmodernism about our part in constructing and interpreting reality are recognized in integral spirituality.
First, we always interpret our spiritual experiences from the stage of growth we are in. The more evolved the stage, the more loving, moral, complex, inclusive, and true our understanding of our spiritual experiences.
Second, we now recognize that we join God as co-creators of reality as we cut “cosmic grooves” in reality by our interpretations and actions. Higher states of consciousness open us up to spiritual experiences that are real and co-created by both God’s Infinite Consciousness and our human/divine consciousness.
Beneath the social mask we wear every day, we have a hidden shadow side: an impulsive, wounded, sad, or isolated part that we generally try to ignore. Recognizing and owning our shadow can be a source of emotional richness and vitality, and acknowledging it can be a pathway to healing and an authentic life. Carl Jung said, “One does not become enlightened by imaging figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
Transcend and include
This motto describes the process of developmental evolution whereby we transcend the worst of our past perspectives while including and building on the best of them, and are open to a new ones