“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

What does it mean to be integral?

As of right now, I have no idea what I could end up saying about the essence of integral spirituality. You must of course trust that I have not edited the text and interfered with its temporal flow. I’ll admit I had to stop and reflect to gather my thoughts before I wrote each of the prior sentences. But that is also how we speak– at least how I speak. I’ll come clean now, though… I did have some idea what I wanted to say before I started this blog: I wanted to say that this all has everything to do with intersubjectivity.

The cosmos evolves. That means nothing is separate and everything is connected. No one force, no single holon, can act but in concert with all other holons. Higher holons may have more intentional weight, more creative and expressive capability, but the lower holons still pay the bills. To evolve, then, is to grow more complex and more connected. Life suceeds in this process of self-creation only when the higher complexities don’t become so unhinged that they snap off and send the whole system tumbling back to the bottom rung of the latter. I’m thinking here in terms of the mind, its relationship with the body; and through the body, the world. The mind is straining so hard to see the world that the body itself is dissolving. Might this be the root of our ecological crisis?

To get back to intersubjectivity… This strenuous relationship between the mind (the I) and the world (the It) has had a covert but deeply influential role to play in our understanding of what it means to communicate. If we leave the body behind in an attempt to get a clear and objective view of the world, we find that we can no longer even recognize ourselves. The mind no longer exists so long as I have perfect knowledge of the observable world. Well, it may exist (the scientists have to think their theories into existence, after all)… but it is not significant. Only material symbols are significant. Everything else is a misunderstanding. But if we remain within the body, words become gestures. A disembodied mind’s feelings become hidden because the body is repressed as the mind retreats inward. Communication becomes disinterested and vague. Words seem to have no stable meaning. Gesture, though, is a direct conveyance of emotion… it ejects the hidden inerds of human expression out into the world via an immediate tactile contact with the Other. To intersubject we must first embody. This embodiment then gives us the ability to enact our meanings while conversing with others. This intersubjectivity bridges the gap between the I and It perspectives and gives life its meaning. Logical calculations of an objective world are no longer the core motivation behind every attempt at relationship with the Other. Instead, the simple play of thoughts exchanged between beings becomes an end in itself… and out of this spontaneous interaction arises new higher forms of evolution… more complex and more connected forms.

So we should expect that an integral society would be geographically tribal (more complex), yet consciously planetary (more connected). How can this be pulled off effectively? The internet seems to be playing a HUGE role. Blogs, and I think especially Vlogs, are starting to open up streams of communication that have never been available before. I am currently in the middle of a somewhat intense philosophical discussion on youtube with someone who lives in Australia (I’m in Orlando, Fl). The medium certainly is the message, as Mcluhan said. The internet is a very spiritual format… we are forced to embrace the Other and face up to ourselves with every word we write and speak.

Enlightenment is a group phenomenon. Separately, as individuals, we cannot evolve. The next step requires a more subtle awareness of one another. We need eachother to do this right, otherwise we’re just masturbating and wasting our creative power. The next step in the evolution of consciousness can take place only when we engage one another openly, rationally, and spiritually. We’ve got to communicate, put our heads together, and learn to experience the cosmos integrally.







One response to “What does it mean to be integral?”

  1. Andras Magagna Avatar
    Andras Magagna

    I think an important aspect to such integration is to learn what we are able from frameworks of others and not our own framework alone. I think what we learn from framework of others will assist us in understand the logic and reason of others. It is this understanding that would allow us to realize new connections with others.

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