Sunday, September 16, 2007

An Integral rant

Author's note: This was originally written as a rather rambling rant. I decided to put it more in order, and divide it into four statements. These are

  • The Current Integral Movement does not seem to be receptive to the concept of Divinisation

  • The Integral Movement is a subset of the New Age/New Paradigm/Global Mindshift and lacks gnosis

  • The Synthesis of Yoga describes true Integral Spiritual Practice in contrast to the non-integral spirituality of the mainstream Integral movement

  • There is a lack of understanding of Bhakti (Surrender to the Supreme) in the Mainstream Integral Movement

This material is also being incorporated into an essay that I will submit to Frank Visser's Integral World when finished.

The Current Integral Movement does not seem to be receptive to the concept of Divinisation

I've been having some interesting discussion on the Integral blogs. And one thing that intrigues me is the lack of receptivity to concepts such as Divinisation. Now, I will say that Integral Praxis is a very admirable initiative, the people behind the blog are top guys, and hopefully something raelly meanintgful and productive will come of it all. I support them, and I'll probably chip in with comments and posts now and then, and also give them links and mentions. But having said that, I am reminded of where I stand, and where the Integral Movement (as opposed to the Integral Yoga movement, which which I identify) stands. And the difference is great. And always has been. I still see the Integral Movement - whether wilberian, neowilberian (hows that for a neologism ;-), postwilberian, or nonwilberian, as an important part of the planetary mindshift. And I still identify with it to a partial extent, in teh sense that I agree with their ideals of spiritual evolution, the integration of knowledge, and building a better world (all of which are indistinguishable from the goals of the mainstream New Age movement too). And I find the Kosmos definition of Integral preferable to the Integral Institute definition, because there is more praxis and less theory there.

The Integral Movement is a subset of the New Age/New Paradigm/Global Mindshift and lacks gnosis

Some background, for those who don't know my story. The reason I became interested in the Integral Movement because it seemed to me to embody a spirit of universal spiritual synthesis combined with the intellectual rigour lacking in the New Age. The reason I became disillsuioned with the Integral Movement is when I realised the whole movement is limited to a very Wilber perspective, which goes against the whole idea of a synthesis of teachings, in which everyone has their say. Who wants to follow a guy who isn't even enlightened? This is why (I discovered to my great disappointment) there is no authentic gnosis or integral spirituality there at all.

The problem with the Integral Movement is that its foundation is not spirituality or enlightened revelation, but both a religion based on Wilber worship, and an intellectualism based on Wilber books, and some Westernised Buddhism thrown in (Buddhism is pretty much the only spirituality they can handle, because it is intellectual and pragmatic, and does not involve metaphysics or radical practices such as Surrender to the Supreme; you can be a physicalist and still be a practicing Buddhist! It is ideally set up for the secular Western mindset), as well as some Californian Lifestyle choices marketed as "Spiritual Cross-Training". And even the people disillusioned with Wilber, not interested in his personality cult, and involved in activism and practice, are still limited by his intellectualism; there is no gnosis there at all.

This is now being supplemented by practical activism, which is a very positive development. But the activism and practice is still tried to modernist, wilberian, and buddhistic perspectives.

On the theoretical level, the Integral Movement can synthesise opposites and integrate the diverse areas of human knowledge in a larger evolutionary paradigm. But so could Whitehead, Vernadsky, Teilhard, Haskell, Jantsch .... So what is unique?

On the practical level it is no different to the general New Age / New Paradigm / Alternative / Global Mindshift / etc movements. All of which are highly worthy, and the most exoteric stage of the Integral Transformation. But it is not an Integral Movement or Practice, but a New Age sensu lato (Hanegraaf) / New Paradigm / Alternative / Integral / Global Mindshift / Great Turning cluster of mcurrenst within the larger Integral Transformation.

The third level? that's the spiritual. And I mean teh authentic, total transformation of all parts of the being and incorporation of all the yogas. And you won't find this sort of spirituality anywhere in the current, mainstream, Integral Movement (which is not to deny the spiritual nature of the movement, but I am talking about a much more radical and yogic spiritual practice)

The Synthesis of Yoga describes true Integral Spiritual Practice in contrast to the non-integral spirituality of the mainstream Integral movement

The following passage, from chapter V of the introduction of Synthesis of Yoga, explains how even in its most preliminary methodology, the Integral spirituality of Sri Aurobindo goes far beyond anything in the Integral movement now, and probably beyond anything the Integral Movement will have to offer for decades to come (unless my own work has an influence; because by writing about something i am also changing it). is always through something in the lower that we must rise into the higher existence, and the schools of Yoga each select their own point of departure or their own gate of escape. They specialise certain activities of the lower prakriti and turn them towards the Divine. But the normal action of Nature in us is an integral movement in which the full complexity of all our elements is affected by and affects all our environments. The whole of life is the Yoga of Nature. The Yoga that we seek must also be an integral action of Nature, and the whole difference between the Yogin and the natural man will be this, that the Yogin seeks to substitute in himself for the integral action of the lower Nature working in and by ego and division the integral action of the higher Nature working in and by God and unity. If indeed our aim be only an escape from the world to God, synthesis is unnecessary and a waste of time; for then our sole practical aim must be to find out one path out of the thousand that lead to God, one shortest possible of short cuts, and not to linger exploring different paths that end in the same goal. But if our aim be a transformation of our integral being into the terms of God-existence, it is then that a synthesis becomes necessary.

Ok, let's look at Sri Aurobindo is saying here.

Ordinary existence or nature itself is an integral movment, but one based in ignorance ("ego and division").

The various previous yogas were not interested in transforming this world, only in finding the quickest shortcut out, selcting only a single attribute of the lower nature (prakriti) and using taht to attain the transcendent (so it could be jnana or bhakti or whatever). Hence Buddha's parable of the arrow. Why waste time discussing metaphysics when you can be working on attaining Liberation?

Sri Aurobindo's unique synthesis - Integral Yoga, in contrast has to combine all the systems. This is because he isn't interested in fleeing the world. rather he wants to transform it. But to transform it he has to addre4ss all the aspects of the lower nature, and hence incorporate all the yogic techniques. rather than just one, he has to synthesise all of them.

And that's Integral Yoga.

Now, let's return to the present-day Integral Movement.

This proposes an evolutionary synthesis of knowledge. This is the first stage, theory. Here we have Wilber and development psychologists like Kegan and Cook-Gruber, Spiral Dynamics (Don Beck), neowilberian theory (i.e. people who like Wilber but add extra stuff to his ideas - e.g. Mark Edwards), and postwilberians (people who reject or go beyond Wilber but still retain certain of his ideas - e.g. Edward Berge of Open Integral). And we have lots of others who use "integral" in a non-wilberian sense - e.g. Sally Goerner and Erwin Lazlo. There is also a lot more that isn't called Integral but that says the same thing - e.g. non-integral spiral dynamics (Chris Cowan), Great Story neo-teilhardism (Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme), and New Age sensu lato and so on. So we can't even use the word Integral because Integral is just a subset of a broader paradigm shift.

Then we have the next stage, practice. This means putting that exoteric synethsis into practice in thought and word and deed. This is the cutting edge, the "frothy edge" to use their term, of the Integral Movement now. And once again there is also Great Story eco-spirituality and practice, the Alternative Movement, the New Age sensu lato, etc etc . Once again, Wilberian/Neowilberian/Postwilberian Integral is just a tiny subset of a much bigger paradigm shift.

Then we have stage three, Integral Yoga. This means going beyond mental forms altogether, and going beyond exoteric limitations, and living and practicing a life and praxis and activism that is infused with gnosis and enlighetnemnt and spiritual transformation of self and world at every stage. Here is where we leave the poor Wilberian movement far behind. Because this stage involves all spiritualities, not just Wilber's Westernised Buddhism.

So it can be seen that spirituality in the current Integral Movement is old, premodern to use their term. They have integral theory, excellent. They are only now making admirable steps in practice. have not made a single advance beyond what the Buddha discovered 2500 years ago, and if anything they have gone backwards, because rather than following the path to enlightenment they get distracted by all this mental masturbation over minutiae of quadrants and lines and waves and altitude and methodological perspectives.

There is a lack of understanding of Bhakti (Surrender to the Supreme) in the Mainstream Integral Movement

What Sri Aurobindo taught, in contrast to all this, was an Integral Spirituality. He wasn't the first, Ramakrishna did it before him. But so far this Integral Spiritual Practice is limited to the Aurobindonian Integral Yoga community, which with a few admirable exceptions such as AUM ("All USA Meeting") and an offshoot blog SCIY ("Science, Culture & Integral Yoga"), does not dialogue with the rest of the world. Well, who can blame them? There's a lot of ignorance out there, and it can be tedious. But this means the collective social transformation (noosphere) is not addressed.

Each is one-sided to some extent. The Integral Yoga community in the West is not active in outreach (in India however Sri Aurobindo is very big, and there are important education iniatives in the state of Orissa for example). While the Integral Movement remains tied to a limited, non-integral, non-world-transforming spirituality.

Ok, but what about Michael Murphy - Integral Transformative Practice - linking Aurobindo and Wilber? Well, I cannot comment here. i get a good vibe from his photo, but does ITP raelly radically go beyond the mental, transcend the ego, transmute the lower desires, enlighten the cells of the body, bring the Divine down to Earth? Or is it just another California lifestyle thing? I can't tell, because I have no experience with it. but what makes me cynical is that Murphy, like Craig Hamilton (formerly of What is Enlightenment? magazine, and a devotee of Andrew Cohen), while strongly supportive of the AUM 2007 Conference, seem to lack insights in the way that Bhakti and Surrender focused on an enlightened guru (not an intermediate zone one) works. To quote from a report about the AUM. Below is an article written for Auroville Today on the conference

Craig Hamilton (former editor of "What is Enlightenment?" magazine, whose workshop at last year's AUM brought this question into the open) along with Michael Murphy of Esalen found that their major criticisms (the unquestioning acceptance of Mother and failure of self-reflection that they'd seen in the Ashram and Auroville) were effectively answered by the very fact of the panel itself.

Failure of Self Reflection? Or heart-felt devotion through Bhakti Yoga? A devotion taht transcends the mental faculties. This is not to say that the mental cannot be employed as well; indeed it should be to avoid the slide into fundamentalism. But one thing I find interesting is that nowhere is there any evidence of Bhakti, or of Surrender to the Supreme, in the entire Integral Movement. This is not surprising, given the over intellectual nature of the whole movement. People with a strong mental nature tend to be weakly developed on the emotional. But unless there is balance between head and heart, then nothing can be achieved.

by the way I do feel this balance at forums like Integral Praxis and Zaadz; but I never see it in Wilber's obsessive intellectualising. This is obviously one reason why Wilber frequently mentions Sri Aurobindo, but never once in all his thousands of pages The Mother.

But balance of head and heart alone are not enough. A third element is needed; transcendence of the rational mind. This requires giving up hierarchical perspectives such as ideas of second tier elitism etc. And this is achieved most powerfully through heart-felt aspiration to the Supreme. If your mind and heart is centered on the Supreme, then you won't be thinking about how special and superior your mental understanding is, how you are at the cutting edge or frothy edge of kosmic evolution, and so on.

This essential humility is what is most needed for the Integral Movement

So where do I go from here? Well, I'll keep blogging and stirring things up. And finish my books. And help launch a new definition of Integral, which is also teh original definition, which is so far in advance of what is around now (which is not to denegrate, only to speak strongly).

The world is waiting for a new evolutionary consciousness.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

My essay on Integral Praxis

I've submitted an essay to the Integral Research Group (IRG) people for inclusion on Integral Praxis - it's called Redefining the Integral. There's already some comments there (both pro and anti), so it should be interesting. Will the Integral movement be able to break free of its Wilberian shackles? Time will tell.

The IRG also has another, non-intellectual, blog, called Integral Flow which I've joined. (I would have preferred another title, say, Integral Life, but, we'll see what happens)

In the meantime, I have three books in the pipeline - Integral Metaphysics and Transformation, which has been already described here and on my Zaadz blog, but which will be shorter than originally planned, because I'm a perfectionist and I don't want to be writing forever; another tentatively titled Global Paradigm Shift, about the New Age, New Paradigm, Alternative, Eco-spiritual, Integral, and other such movements, and how they all fit together; and a non-technical book that I'm thinking of calling The Story of Everything about the origin, history and future of the cosmos, from an esoteric perspective.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

New Integral Developments

I haven't written anything here for quite a while. the main reason being that I've been busy on my books, my sadhana, my website, and other things. I've also written some stuff at my Zaadz blog.

Anyway there've been a few interesting things that have come up

Fora long time now I've been feeling bored with the whole Integral Movement. The intellectualism, the religosity (Wilber worship), the lack off gnosis.... I've already writetn some of my comments on my blogs.

I decided to reorganise some of my website; and transfer some of the material in the "Integral" section to a new section called "Esotericism". So this is what I'm doing on at the moment. Because Esotericism is based on Gnosis, whereas "Integral" is an ambigious word that can mean anything. And not seeing any foundation in the movement beyond Wilberism (Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga community is totally different) I was thinking of giving up entirely on the Integral movement. But then two interesting developments came along

First, some real questioning on Open Integral - Personal reflections on integral - rather than the usual philosophising and social commentary (not saying those things are bad, just, well, i want more). Is this just a flash in the pan, or is Open Integral finally beginning to mature?

Second, an intriguing new blog, which I found out about through Open Integral, called Integral Praxis. Might this be the beginning of an authentic proper post-wilberian movement (I don't mean intellectual Wilber criticism, which, while useful and necessary, does not consitute a movement)? It seems like something I should get involved in.

Most important of all is networking, because there is little that can be achieved by working in isolation, as was the rule in the past.

So we'll see what happens!

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