We are in a race between consciousness and catastrophe, and the potential catastrophes keep multiplying. But the outcome is not predestined and our fate is in our hands. As integral practitioners, the question becomes: How can we use our integral skills to contribute most effectively? Of course, beneath this lies another question: How do we discover our most effective contributions?
No doubt, Walsh’s concerns are indeed urgent but there is nothing new in what he has to say.
When says that we need to change the world, what he is actually saying is that we need to save ourselves from ourselves. The person we see in the mirror has to change his/her inner world of illusions and appearances that undermine our potential for a greater perception of reality. Walsh pointed out that “our usual state of mind is dysfunctional and delusional” no shit, Sherlock! In past comments, I’ve been lamenting about the fact that the integral community spends too much time talking about waking up and not enough about growing up.
And so, for Christ sake, what are the direct means by which we can grow up? By growing up, I understand it as addressing our unresolved inner conflicts, our pent up negative unresolved emotions, trauma, and re-examining our belief system so thoroughly and intense that it would be like someone having a gun to your head.
On finding the direct means of growing up, I’m reminded of Dr. Marsha Linehan, regarded as the foremost authority on borderline personality disorder (BPD). She spent decades crafting therapeutic treatments to help people rise above this debilitating disorder which is just as common as depression. If Dr. Linehan was able to devise therapeutic treatments for BPD, why can’t integral theory create one for ignorance and stupidity? To me, this is the greatest enemy facing humanity. There is so much talk about climate change, war, poverty and injustice that we forget that WE are the ones creating it.
And what about the proverbial elephant in the room-Capitalism? It has served us well for decades but it was never a perfect economic system. As technology and social media advances exponentially, as the rich get richer and debt keeps rising with all manner of injustice and equality, we continue to bow to the dictates of capitalism without question, without accepting the degree in which it is contributing to madness that Walsh is talking about. And what Walsh is talking about is what Dr. Erich Fromm said decades ago. Just as Scott Galloway said that our public educational system lost the script on what constitutes exceptional and affordable education, so too we lost the script on Dr. Fromm’s dire warnings. His books, The Sane Society, Escape From freedom, To have or to be, are just a few that address the core of our existential problems. Karen Horney’s book “Neurosis And Human Growth: the struggle towards self realization” is another book that I believe reveals what we are up against in growing up as I described previously.
I don’t consider myself a pessimist, rather, a realist. Walsh’s call is certainly a noble one but the way things are going is like trying to steer a 650,000 ton container ship going at full speed to avoid crashing into a glacier that no one sees yet fast approaching. I believe we need PSA’s as the means to get people to grow the fuck up. The American people need to be told -point blank- just how dire the world really is at a very existential level and in a way they can understand. They need to confront the brutal facts that unless we face realty as it really is and not not as they imagine it, the future looks very grim.
The only way to get the American people mad as hell at the way things are is by telling them the grim realities that our news media can never do. The path towards growing up begins with accepting very bitter truths about the world no matter how we may feel of the outcome. Humans need to be told that they are actually automatons, culturally created beings who were indoctrinated since childhood into believing in cultural, political, socio-economic, and religious ideologies that never had the transforming power towards self realization. As. Dr. Dennis L Kingsley said in his book The Struggle for Your Mind: Conscious Evolution and the Battle to Control How We Think
Throughout our lives we are subjected to indoctrination by a systemic structure of processes and institutions. Within this conditioning environment beliefs almost “grow” into us. And once they are a part of our socially constructed selves they are sustained, reinforced, and protected, often unconsciously, by psychological processes of perception. With few rare exceptions, all people are brought up within specific culturally defined environments (or templates). A person’s dominant social milieu then attempts to offer a variety of accepted sociocultural norms of thought and behavior. These may operate through various forms, such as personal faith, religion, science, language and emotions, denial and doubt, happiness and fear, safety and security (identity and belonging), well-being and materialism.
Once ingrained, a person is liable to perpetuate such traits, believing them to have been obtained through “free thought.” In the end, we reinforce beliefs that have grown into us, accepting and defending them as our own. So when we say, “I don’t believe,” what we often in fact mean to say is, “I automatically reject everything my brain is not wired to receive.” The end result is that for most of us we only believe those things we want to believe or that fit within our perceptual paradigms and/or experiences.
If we are going to rise above Walsh’s dire warnings, we would need a movement so big that would make the civil rights movement a walk in the proverbial park. Integral Life would need new priorities like…do we really need to talk about Stuart Davis’s aliens from outer space? WTF! We already HAVE aliens! It’s our fucking political leaders who are alienated from reality!! From the real concerns of humanity!!! Why isn’t Davis talking about THAT?! And for Christ sake how many more times do we have to talk about the enneagrams, non dual awareness, the “four energies”- whatever that means- karma yoga and awakening?!! What makes us think that if we get all this stuff in our head
we will reach some kind of enlightenment in our lifetime?! I guess you could -if you are a monk!
The world is going to fucking hell and all the while we are either sitting in quiet mediation, or talking/watching endlessly ABOUT all things integral that has turned into a form of entertainment yet nothing changes. Isn’t this spiritual bypassing? Dr. Kingsley’s quote above shows, in a very direct way, just how deep in shit we are in and not once have I heard from anyone in integral, not even Wilber, what Dr. Kingsley said so clearly and directly. You don’t need to be an integralist to understand it.
He is showing us -straight forwardly- the intricacies by which we have been and continue to be duped by the machinations of our often insane society. And when you read it, does it bother you? Do you feel a tinge of existential angst of what he is saying? If so, then I believe you are getting a small dose of what is required to grow up.
In Dr Sheldon Solomon interview with Lex Fridman he said of Kierkegaard
"Well here I am. I have shrugged off all of the cultural accoutrements that I have used to define myself. And now what am I or who am I? At this point Kierkegaard said, “you are really dangling on the precipice of oblivion” And some people tumble into that abyss and never come out. On the other hand, Kierkegaard said "what you can now do metaphorically and literally is to rebuild yourself from the ground up"
As I understand it, we cannot grow up until we shed our cultural accoutrements. And so, we return again the same question: how do we do it? And when will the integral community get out of its own bubble of all things Integral and deal with this crisis that Walsh has addressed?
I think you touch on what I judge to be some significant holes in integral.
Here are just some random observations I have.
Cleaning up is as necessary as it is difficult. I also think this is done very inefficiently in an individual practice. 3-2-1 is a decent practice, but in my own experience with group practice, interacting with others seems to bring much more to the cleaning up table.
Waking up and growing up are also inefficient to go it alone. Waking up is often faster with the assistance and methods of various cults, but requires one to pull back before becoming enmeshed. Several forms of mentor-mentee relationships would accelerate growing up and also waking up.
Can cleaning up, growing up and waking up be a part time endeavor that can be fit into a few minutes a day around “real life”? I don’t believe so, but this concept is what sells books and workshops. “Yes, you can be a CEO of 5 companies and fit integral into a 10 minute slot every X hours.”
Knowing the path vs walking the path - I think it’s very easy to grasp Integral concepts intellectually, but living them is not so easily accomplished. I think there is also a certain point where overinvolvement with talking about integral starts to impede being integral. Analysis paralysis.
No one can be shown the path. I don’t think telling works. Integral concepts have to be available and visible for people to begin of their own volition, and the best way to do this is by walking the walk 24 / 7 and letting oneself be a walking billboard. In my own practice I want more and more people to see the benefits I derive from my practice and engage their curiosity about it. As I disengage from societal norms my hope is that as I further develop, those I interact with (dozens of people a day) will see the benefits I derive from not following the norms, while following those same norms is the source of their suffering. I think only then, acting in their own self interest for their own benefit, will people become serious about following an integral life. Then also, at some point I may need to provide scaffolding of sorts to lessen the effects on people who wander into Dr. Sheldon Solomon’s “oblivion”.
I don’t see any of this as something anyone else should do instead of me doing it. I don’t expect it to be done by any organizations or power brokers vying for funding, revenues or profits unless they come to the realization of the need to do it themselves through their own practice.
Sitting in quiet meditation is a part of my practice, but getting out and stirring the pot and challenging outdated concepts (with love) online and face to face are as well. It’s something I am just starting but I think my integral practice requires.
I agree that I don’t have an interest in discussing enneatypes at all, and the idea of expressing my own individual egoistic opinion on nonduality makes me giggle inside. Or I have this idea in my head that integral life might need to publish something / anything at a certain frequency for business reasons and I might be right or wrong about that.
I hope that politicians and other traditional power brokers can be made irrelevant if enough people are living an integral life 24/7. My preference would be for there to be no desire to watch a medium where public service announcements would be effective.
Long time ago i discovered that my major issues are my repressed unconscious shadow aspects of myself. To embrace them, to integrate them, to love them again is the hardest thing to do. But in order to really change the world i need to change myself in that way.
My wounds are bleading and if i really wish to help to stop the world from bleeding out, I need to stop bleeding. So healing myself is my number 1 priority and in my opinion it should be number 1 priority for everybody.
I understand it is difficult and it hurts like hell but it is the only way to help the world…