Inhabit: Your Perspective

“The 8 indigenous perspectives thus enact different (but tetra-related) event horizons—phenomenological worlds or zones, or what I will sometimes call “hori-zones”—horizons of awareness within which various types of occasions arise (or can arise). A hori-zone is a space of possible experience for sentient beings in general. A hori-zone is a meeting place of first, second, and third persons, as they mutually enact each other. Prior to perception is perspective, and a hori-zone is a swatch of the AQAL matrix scoped and felt by a particular play of native perspectives. The various hori-zones are some of the ways the Kosmos feels itself, moment to moment, nakedly.” —Ken Wilber

A Yoga of Perspectives

Most of us are already familiar with Ken Wilber’s Four Quadrant map, but this presentation goes one step deeper — we aren’t just looking at the quadrants themselves, but the “inner” and “outer” dimensions of each quadrant (i.e. looking at each quadrant from the 1st-person, and from the 3rd-person). Taken together, these eight zones refer to the most fundamental perspectives that we can take on any phenomenon, and are most often used to organize and situate all of the major methodologies and schools of thought that we use to generate and confirm our knowledge, resulting in something like this:

But these aren’t just boxes on a piece of paper; they represent the fundamental perspectives that are available to you right now. We unconsciously slide through these perspectives all the time, and all we need to do is recognize what sorts of perspectives we are taking, so that we can use and inhabit them more consciously. Which is why we wanted to do this episode — to step beyond a mere cognitive understanding of these zones, and instead help find a way to feel into these perspectives and to experience them from the inside out. We want you to become more fluent in this sort of perspective-taking, without requiring a working knowledge of Foucault, Varela, Luhmann, etc.

In other words, this isn’t another hyper-cognitive discussion of integral theory. This is more of a “perspectival yoga”, and we hope that by the time you have finished watching this episode you will be more familiar with these fundamental dimensions of your experience, right now in this very moment.

One of the very best and most common applications of the eight zones is to art, as has been very thoroughly explored by minds like Ken Wilber, Michael Schwartz, and others. In this episode we are doing two things simultaneously — using these perspectives in order to more fully appreciate the art we love, while also using art in order to more fully understand and inhabit these perspectives.

We do so by boiling these perspectival zones down to some very fundamental questions we can ask about any artwork or object we happen to be looking at:

Watch as Bruce, Ryan, and I help make these perspectives a bit more intuitive by noticing how often we are already taking them in our daily lives, how to apply them to any of our experiences.


Well, I had a lot of fun with this, and sort of fell in love with the AQAL matrix all over again.

It’s great to see more and more IL titled videos going up on You Tube. This was another quality episode of Inhabit that the Integral community can be proud of, and with its relatively simplified teachings around a relatively complex aspect of IT, also hopefully happy with.

I thought the questions Corey formulated for each Zone were excellent. While focused on art and artist, the questions would also be a great guide for anyone who wanted to focus them on the Integral project itself. A systematic tour of the 8 Zones with these questions might help clarify and enlarge, even change, the perspective(s) one holds on Integral.

Bruce’s comment in the Zone 5 discussion about some works of art having an interiority of their own, and CdV’s and Ryan’s additional comments, reminded me of one of the earliest experiences I had of that, which occurred when viewing an abstract by the Russian painter Kandinsky. It was fun to recall that particular incident and its unfolding in my life, and to revisit his work online and come across this Kandinsky quote:

“The true work of art is born from the ‘artist,’ a mysterious, enigmatic, and mystical creation. It detaches itself from him, it acquires autonomous life, becomes a personality, an independent subject, animated with a spiritual breath, the living subject of a real existence of being.”

While I wholly appreciated this episode and its orientation, something that kept niggling at me was the blue orb mama in space and in the space of the LR quadrant, the earth, as a major player in art, and also the earth/biosphere/cosmos as the primordial work of art. Considering these same Zone questions with the earth as art/object might be an interesting (and challenging) episode, both an opportunity to repeat the teachings on the Zones and also orient the Integral community more to a planetary consciousness at this point in time.

What I did to satisfy the personal niggling was to spend quite a bit of time over the next week or so looking at “art-in-relationship-to-the-earth” and running that through the four quadrants and eight zones, which I will share just a tiny bit of.

The biosphere, natural scapes–land, sea, sky–, the elements and weathers and seasons figure prominently of course as subject or theme or feature in many great works of art (Kandinsky’s most famous painting is not an abstract, but an impressionistic landscape), and from the earth come psychoactive plants that have inspired and influenced many artists and works through changes in state of consciousness (UL, Zone 2)

In the LL Zone 4, I focused a lot on how cultural factors combine with ecosystems/climate to produce art works. There are so many examples of this, e.g. unique regional cuisine in the culinary arts; and the Mississippi Delta with its raw, earthy, sensory landscape, its water and heat, its wetland plains and farmland, its river culture, its multiculturalism of Europeans, Native Americans, and African-Americans birthing a great number of great writers who, like Mark Twain, “read the river” to tell their stories, being just a couple of examples. Considered the “cradle of American music,” the Delta and Black America’s “blood, sweat, and tears” experiences also gave birth to the blues, and one could say southern blues as an artform was actually transported by the river to other locales north and south as those musicians migrated on river boats.

It seems worth pointing out that some cultures, countries even, have focused their traditional arts entirely on the simplicity and “perfection” of the natural world around them, Japan being a great example with its tea ceremonies, flower arranging, gardens, woodblock prints and paintings on ceramics, paper arts and sculpture such as origami and folding screens, and Haiku.

Zones 5 and 6 in the UR quadrant made me think that while the artworld today is one of import and export and international exchange of ideas, the geographic place where certain forms of art or materials originated has often been used to gauge the authenticity of succeeding artists and artworks. The Gobi Desert for instance is still considered the primo place for the production of the cashmere coveted by haute couture. The Rolling Stones, and some urban rappers as well, have to address Zones 5 and 6 in using the themes, styles, and musicians of the Delta blues as influences on their own musical works.

What art can exist without the raw materials from the earth? (LR, Zones 7 and 8) From the natural plant and mineral “paints” used by our ancestors and the natural tools they used to scrawl pictographs and petroglyphs on rock and cave walls; to the rare earth minerals used in speakers, microphones, cameras, and computer hard drives today, and so much in between, the earth is truly the Mother Lode, the source of so much (which brings to mind all kinds of ethics questions, of course, around the “extractive arts” for example). I also thought of how the frozen landscape and particularly, the natural light in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s film “The Revenant” were instruments and played “starring roles” in that movie (much as the Beatles’ use of the studio became an instrument in their music).

So yes, I could not think of art and systems without thinking of the Earth system. Even in sci-fi space and fantasy films the earth is often central: either people are homesick or nostalgic about it, or trying to save it, or traveling between it and the asteroid belt or another planet, or the elements of the earth figure prominently (like sand and water in “Dune”) or something-- Even our Integral conversation-artists must attend to it, like Ryan needing to take a break to go tend to some trees…

Very long story very short, I had a great time traveling the geographic world and the artworld in memory and online while holding these Zone questions in mind, addressing them. Highly recommended! Thank you, Inhabitors.


I love this review and reflection, @LaWanna, thank you so much for taking the time to watch and respond!

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