I realize that my comments here may be entirely superfluous, particularly if a decision has already been made to go to ILC Discourse 2 as Corey has described in the initial post (and perhaps there are already other ideas in the brew for how this space might be used, ideas that haven’t been mentioned or that are still gestating). And I reiterate that I trust that whatever the decision is or will be, will be a good one that considers multiple perspectives. I personally will be fine with whatever decision is made. Still, I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about this, so might as well share some of that, for what it’s worth.
Integral Life is a business entity, a media company that draws at least part of its revenue from paid memberships/subscriptions and sales of training programs/events. Integral Life has been and is a key player in bringing the integral vision into the world. I could never do justice in acclaiming the remarkable impact that Ken Wilber’s books and talks and consultations alone have had in generally forwarding the integral vision and reality framework, into arenas and fields that most of us know very little about. Nor could I do justice to delineating how superbly Integral Life has complemented, supplemented and extended that work. Suffice to say, many bows to both Ken and Integral Life. My own story of “coming to Integral” 20+ years ago is full of mystery, synchronicity, serendipity, and humor, and while I won’t be overly dramatic and say ‘it saved my life,’ it certainly cooled a fever in me and made me more sane, when those were exactly the medicines I needed at the time. The first Wilber book I read was “The Eye of Spirit.” That book alone so powerfully organized the many disconnected strands of my knowledge into a coherent whole and subsequent books gave me a vocabulary to describe my intuitive knowings, that I will be forever grateful. As I say, deep bows.
“Integral” itself (or ‘integralism’), on the other hand, is something different than a business entity/media company. It is a kind of consciousness and a particular stage of development that is already present in the world, having been identified by numerous developmental theorists who gave it a different (and sometimes the same) name, and with any luck, it will continue to emerge. As a level/stage of consciousness, it is self-existing; it cannot be ‘owned.’ And when I ask myself “what is most real?”–the business entity or the consciousness–with “real” being defined as most lasting, I tend to settle on the consciousness/the stage. One hundred years from now, there may not be an Integral Life media company, but should civilization/humanity still be around, I think there will be an integral stage of development in individuals and cultures. Still, and on the other hand, Wilber’s work and the AQAL model and Integral Life have been and are hugely instrumental in introducing and shepherding so many people towards that consciousness through Wilber’s particular model, and that can’t go unnoticed, a sort of ‘ownership’ there does exist. One hundred years and more from now, should humanity still be around, I think Wilber’s books will still be read and studied.
In a nutshell, the two–business entity media company and kind/stage of consciousness–are simultaneously intertwined and separate/distinct from one another. Or, as one early ILC Discourse member eloquently put it: “Although “integral” is ultimately a characteristic of the Universe and is free as the air, the community established here and its great leaders has (sic) distilled its emergence into a path we can walk and understand.”
So I look at this question “should this be a members-only community” in both of these ways.
I’m sure my point of view is both imperfect and incomplete, but I wonder if the initial purpose of ILC Discourse wasn’t two-fold: providing introduction/education/sharing of the integral consciousness along with the framework for both members and non-members alike, with the thought both of the possibility of an opportunity for evolving consciousness of more individuals, and also that perhaps that non-member participants might become paying members. If the latter hasn’t happened, then from a purely business/financial point of view, one might conclude that offering participation free of charge, to non-members, is a losing proposition. I’ve been connected to IL long enough to remember when there were two kinds of membership: “community members” who were not paid subscribers and whose access to content was limited, and “premium members” who were paid subscribers for relatively unlimited access. But all were considered ‘members,’ and I somehow missed the gradual transition or tipping point to new terminology: non-members and members (i.e. supporting members). This is neither criticism nor a value judgement one way or the other, just an observation. And most likely it is due to my own negligence that I failed to notice sooner the change in terminology. Still, while I can understand it from multiple vantage points, including from a business point of view, it somehow makes me a little sad.
Media companies placing some online content behind paywalls has been the trend in recent years, both mainstream media and some alternative media sources on You Tube. Many of the mainstream sources allow 4 or 5 free articles per month, before payment is required for further access. This is accommodating, and yet critics do point out the “tightening up,” and how it limits people’s access to a variety of sources, particularly those who like to stay well-informed and up-to-date and/or those without means to subscribe to a number of different sources.
IL, with this proposition of a members-only community, is also quite fair, with its accommodations for “case-by-case” exceptions, for people without means to subscribe, and its allowing for reading but not commenting. It also offers the $1 trial first month, and subscription tiers. Still, it does seem a “tightening up,” and perhaps that is absolutely what is needed for this next phase of Discourse. But I can’t help but think of some of the debate I’ve heard in recent months around nationalism and globalism: “in these times,” is it better for nations to pull back unto themselves, become more insular, or continue, even increase, global connection? That perhaps is a similar kind of question being asked here at Integral.
This is probably a good place to stop as my post is pretty long again and I have other things to do. It probably sounds pretty circular, what I’ve written here, but I have more to say that I hope will uncoil it a bit more, for what it’s worth, and make it stand a little more upright.