Does the Integral movement have a jargon problem?

Hello Everyone! My name is Russ and I’m new to this community (though certainly not new to Integralism).

I thought I’d kick off my participation in this forum with a question: do we Integralists have a jargon problem? I ask this as a New Thought minister who, given the jargon traps that New Thought texts can fall into, is keenly aware of how hard it can be to reach people who are open yet unaware of the meanings behind specific terminology.

For example, if I were to talk to a layperson about AQAL and an “UL quadrant solution,” they would have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about (if I’m being honest, sometimes I don’t know what’s being talked about!). Having spoken with others in my own spiritual movement who have an awareness and understanding of Integralism and Spiral Dynamics, I can say that the general consensus in my local community is that there is a steep learning curve. And–looking from the outside in–it often seems as though the Integral movement is “in its head” and not so much in its “feeling” and “intuitive” ways of knowing.

What can we do to make Integralism more accessible? What can we do to “sell / market” it to those who are on the open to change (ie, how do we show Integralism’s value)? What can we do to help those who are more closed feel safe exploring ideas Integralism offers that may not fit with their particular worldview?

Big questions, I know, but it feels like these need to be crowdsourced :slight_smile:



Your question is pertinnet for me.I’m afraid integral thinking is just for white middleclass literate people…Perhaeps my point of view is too much european, but it’s what I am, and the elististish side of integralism bothers me. What do you think?.

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I think this is a great topic and as someone who has/had exposure to the language of other spiritual perspectives Integral is very heady or appears to be (I don’t mind that much cause I’m heady). My gut feeling is this will alienate more people then not. Its kinda like being in a relationship and you love someone but your language just doesn’t match theirs or your idea of whats loving doesn’t match theirs and your left with this gap between one another despite your love and intention. Or your a diplomat trying to create peace with the outlying regions and you need to know how to talk and act in order to reach your goal or a goal that best suits you both. Integral’s language is its main separating component I feel and the more I’m typing this I think its something that should be considered (perhaps it has and the conclusion reached is it will reach who it reaches and thats the best you can hope+it comes from Ken and big thinkers so its unavoidable).

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Thank you Russ for this thoughtful inquiry. I agree. Although my deep learning with Ken and the Integral community have given to me a much greater, bigger cosmic perspective when trying
to take it out to the crowds, having no understand around this jargon, it all falls on deaf ears.
What I have done over the years is use a more mystic translation with heart, loving jargon into the
map by translating the spaces within…I …We…It…into jargon more appropriate to the feeling heart and have discovered even the most fundamentalist can embody. Out of mind into heart/soul thus into Love.
My mystic poetry serves to take language into its most subtle felt spaces within the map.


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Integral is not so much heady as it is technical.

Plumbing has its own technical language, incomprehensible to outsiders. Sailing ditto.

It is only when you want to understand a certain field that the terminology belonging to that field makes sense.

But i know what you mean: some people can sound as a random integral terms generator when enthusiastically talking about integral as a way of life.

They mix the intellectual with the life aspect.


All these replies are great, thanks everyone!

It seems to me that the solution to the Integralism communication problem may be Integralism itself; we have an opportunity to allow the best AQAL quadrant possible to inform the means of communication, and we also have the opportunity to recognize that not everyone who hears this philosophy is at the same stage, levels and lines as those who have been blessed with the educational and societal resources to glean understanding.

I believe Ernest Holmes once said that we have to begin where people are at, so being able to recognize where people are coming from, what they want, where they’re stuck, etc, can be a very useful method to help grease the wheels of evolution. Knowing that someone is at the Orange level will lead me to communicate in different terms than someone at Green or Blue (sorry, I use the Spiral Dynamics colors since I think they better illustrate what Graves was getting at than Ken’s colors).

One of the main things that comes to mind is finding a way to engage our audience’s mirror neurons. I think that can help people get out of the UL and UR quadrants and into LL, because the intersubjective can’t happen without some kind of relationship beyond pure objectivity (ie, my “subject” consciousness is now in relationship with your “subject” consciousness). When looking at our politics today, it seems people mostly are engaging in a tribal relationship that affirms their UL and UR beliefs, limiting their intersubjective beliefs to that of their tribe (as opposed to the “larger truth” that is realized from inter-tribal relationship). When we engage mirror neurons, our audience then sees a part of themselves in us, and we’ve crossed the intersubjectivity barrier (even if only briefly). That allows us to move past automatic defenses that rise up when someone’s UL and UR identity feels threatened, and to start having a more intimate conversation.

At least, that’s how it works in my head :slight_smile: