Should this be a members-only community?


I am considering tweaking our community permissions so that only active members of Integral Life can post or comment (but anyone can read).

The reason being, this community should strive to be a “community of the adequate”, and we occasionally see conversations that seem to reflect little working knowledge of integral perspectives or practices, as well as critical reactions to articles and media posts that people haven’t actually watched or read, and so forth. I very much want to also make sure that we are making space for integral newcomers to ask questions and learn more about the integral approach, which is why this space has been open to everyone so far — but I also can’t help but to think the conversations would overall be more productive if everyone involved had some degree of skin in the game.

After all, there are countless other integral groups that people can join for free on Facebook and such (Integral Global, for example, which I also moderate), so perhaps this space would be better served as a members-only discussion group. This is absolutely a multi-perspectival space, but I think it’s important that those perspectives are adequately integrally-informed in order for this community to work.

It is just something I am thinking about right now, and it won’t happen overnight, especially considering the technical challenges involved. But I wanted to get a general pulse from you guys, especially those of you who are actual supporting members of Integral Life. I would also consider allowing non-members who nonetheless have genuine interest and curiosity in integral philosophy on a case-by-case basis, and/or extending free memberships to people who are interested but do not have the means to subscribe.

Let me know if you have feedback!


I was kind of expecting you to go that way so I recently signed up for membership. I also saw the benefits of membership. It kind of makes sense that people should have some skin in the game here. I like getting feedback from some of my Integral research and also taking a look at other people’s Integral work and giving them feedback. That sort of collaborative exchange of ideas might become more vibrant if only IL subscribers can post here.


Thanks for the feedback Brandon, and thank you for supporting Integral Life!


Hi Brandon. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on what prevents that “collaborative exchange” from happening now at this site?


Well, I suppose this doesn’t necessarily apply to IL in particular, but there are forums out there wherein there is a lot of noise and people use it as a hangout rather than a thoughtful collaborative space. This isn’t really a high-volume forum, but there are those out there wherein there is a lot of noise and not much signal. I haven’t yet really invested a lot of time getting involved in the conversations here to say how much signal vs. noise there is, but I have posted some of my research on a few occasions and hardly anyone chimed in, even though the work seems related to Integral. I suppose I would probably want to join the existing discussions more and then the other members might get to know me enough to take time to look at my work and they could also ask for my input on their work. That is why I wanted to join this forum. I didn’t really want to engage in chats to get to that point but I might need to start there.


A really great answer, one that embodies, I think, some basic integral values, one being self or personal responsibility. Thank you. I’m still thinking on the question, which has provoked a lot of other questions for me.


Heard! And I for one will try to do a better job keeping an eye out and responding to your posts (to the extent that I have anything useful to say :slight_smile: )


For myself, and why I stopped being a member, is I am interested in applying this to life. I have read so much and done so many retreats and workshops. I feel like I just can do that anymore. What I find, and I find this with every philosophy/therapy out there, is when you question it from an application perspective you just get the doctrine fed back. It’s like it if it’s not getting results it’s always a “you’re not doing it right” kind of thing.

I have done work with this too and tried to apply it “in the world”. I did an education program for a couple of years in a school. It was interesting what connected and what didn’t.

It’s a hard thing because it’s so challenging to find people who can “talk the integral talk” so applying it in life involves constant translation and when you are dealing with very complex issues that integral is actually SO helpful with, I don’t know where to turn to get that help. I start to think integral consciousness is actually a handicap.


I am brand new here and I have a lot to learn. I am starting with learning the theory in depth and it sounds like you have done that. I will always remember that the theories are very whole. I also believe (being a relative newbie) that there is tremendous value in the work. In my mind it makes (or can make) a meaningful impact on the world. I expect that I will need to keep orienting people a lot but that is probably the work itself. I hope that you will continue your journey.


It’s nice to have you with us @Myreene_Tobin, and I hope you remain active in the community!

We have our fair share of squabbles in here, but it’s usually over political stuff, which kinda comes with the territory. Otherwise we are a pretty warm-hearted bunch :slight_smile:


Thanks for your perspective @Sidra. it’s interesting, I have a somewhat different perspective — I feel like we’ve been opening things up a bit more, bringing in some fresh voices, and trying to find more skillful ways to apply these ideas to the really-real world we live in. Always more to be done, though!

As for your “forget the tools”, this resonates with something I shared on FB a little while back:

I had a minor insight while helping my eight year old daughter do her second grade grammar homework.

This is the stage Integral continues to be at.

We are still in Integral second grade, still learning the basic grammar of the stage. Which looks something like “quadrants, levels, lines, states, types, etc.”

But eventually the grammar gets internalized, and then you don’t really need to use the terminology any more. It becomes part of your communicative substrate, unconsciously guiding your language. We begin to forget the rules, but we still follow them (which is why my daughter is constantly teaching me/reminding me of the basic grammar rules I use every day!)

Learning the fundamentals is tremendously important, and I think that is where “integral jargon” truly shines. But eventually we move on from the fundamentals, and we just start talking to each other. The gear works are still there, somewhere beneath the surface, helping to guide and orient our thoughts — but they are no longer the point of discussion, they are objects that have been fully taken in as subjects, and woven seamlessly into our unconscious sense-making.

This is why an “integral novel” (or “integral video game” or any mature integral artifact) likely would never mention something like quadrants, levels, lines, etc. — but it would certainly use these concepts in order to create new kinds of narratives. All the grammar would be packed in there, but we would never see a sentence like “this is the subject, this is the predicate, here’s the noun, here’s the verb”.

Which doesn’t mean that every now and again we shouldn’t dip back into the fundamentals. And many/most people who think they’ve already gone beyond this, really haven’t. They may be enacting the grammar from orange, or from green, or from teal, or from turquoise, and therefore need to check back in with the fundamentals as their capacity to more fully understand and enact them continues to evolve. And I think the grammar itself helps direct and accelerate this process, if we are humble enough to return to Integral Second Grade as often as we need to.


Thanks for this feedback Michelle, and I am hoping that together we can find a way to do both — offer some learning opportunities for newcomers who are just beginning their integral journey, and also find some more practical and pragmatic applications to our daily life and the world around us. I think we try to be many different things for many different kinds of people, and probably do some of it better than others :slight_smile:


I totally agree with you! I have lots of experience in working with Adult Learners as a Facilitator and Executive Coach but I still have to check in with the literature/research to keep me up to date. I am sure that Integral studies and practice will be the same, lest it get stale. That is what appeals to me - not only is it wholes but it evolving too. I had that notion in sessions at the conference today. Integral work has such a huge potential to make an impactful difference.


I sort of see this in the framework, to use some semi-psychological terms, of diagnostics, treatment planning, and implementing/applying the treatment plan. Integral is great at analysis/diagnostics; it’s also great, imo, at treatment planning in terms of having vision and ideas for what would help individuals, organizations, culture, etc. nearly everything! When it comes to application, I’ve heard Ken Wilber say that he developed a theory, a model, and it’s up to others to put it into effect in the world in whatever spheres they choose to and can. Many people, I believe, are doing this or trying to do this in their own areas or fields, including you, I believe. And yet, there is also and still the complaint from some quarters that Integral itself or Integral Life is not doing enough to actualize the Integral vision, that it “should” be more intentional in this regard. There is also the complaint from some quarters that the visions/ideas that Integral does put forth are “pie in the sky,” simply not doable in current time or the foreseeable future.

I say all this because I am not entirely clear if you are speaking to this general idea of wanting Integral as a ‘movement’ to be more intentional and active about implementing/applying a “treatment plan.” Or, if you have hoped for or are looking specifically (perhaps through this site, where perhaps there are at least some people who can “talk the integral talk”) for help in applying integral theory to your own professional or personal projects? I can sort of read you in both ways, and maybe you are speaking to both things, although I think I hear you emphasizing the latter a little bit more. Do correct me if I’m wrong.

If the latter is the case, my question would be: do you think “collaborative exchange of ideas” with fellow integralists such as @EnlightenedWorldview has mentioned, people who are a “community of the adequate” who do “talk the language,” would provide what you want and need? Or, do you think individual consultation or a form of targeted-coaching around your specific issue/project is what you would like?

I’m just trying to get clear about what people are saying are their needs or wants.


At this point in my life, it’s definitely personal needs I’m looking for, although I would love to share what I learned with my little endeavor if it would be helpful information for anyone.

To be clear, Integral life can be whatever it wants to be :heart_eyes: I like to look at every relationship like a marriage. One can be married to a wonderful person, and he/she/they may not be able to meet every need and that’s fine, look elsewhere to get that need met. IL seems like a platform focused on education and exposure to these ideas. I think it does an extraordinary job at that.

do you think “collaborative exchange of ideas” with fellow integralists such as @EnlightenedWorldview has mentioned, people who are a “community of the adequate” who do “talk the language,” would provide what you want and need? Or, do you think individual consultation or a form of targeted-coaching around your specific issue/project is what you would like?

The answer to this would be both. I would love a safe space to “dig in” to this and expose the challenges, vulnerabilities that arise with integral practice. How to create that safe space is the question. When I posted the “teal tyranny” post, my intention with that wasn’t to offer a cruel critique, it was more of a 3-2-1 exercise for me where I wanted to expose some shadow material I was seeing “out there” and the exchange helped me then integrate some teal shadow “in here”. But, it was confusing if it was safe. I seemed to trigger people, which may be ok, but it’s uncomfortable and I was not clear if it was safe. It’s a bit of a cultural issue. There is a lot of tussle on the site and that energy can be very helpful, but it can also be unsafe.

I can think of LR adjustments to make to help create that space, but in the exchange Corey and I had on this type of thing, it’s a bit of an “all you gotta do” suggestion since altering platforms is no small task. I don’t know if membership or even tiered membership would help that. If access to certain exchanges is somehow earned by either demonstration of skill or just purchasing power. I could see that being productive.

Individual consultations are great too. I have done that a bit. Most recently with Stuart and he was so helpful with helping me integrate my subtle body experiences. Now I’m dealing with my daughter and her issues around trauma and learning disorders and I wouldn’t think Stuart would be a good fit for that. It would be nice to have a space where I could ask for that type of help and see if there are integral therapist to talk to with specific specialties. I find if I can work with a therapist where I can integral “geek out” a bit it’s so helpful since it’s how my mind works at this point.


Come July, this ILC Discourse will have been going for 4 years. In some cultures, 4 represents the notion that “It is done,” or “So be it.” It’s symbolically often represented by the square, a four-sided shape that speaks to the idea of being secured, boundaried, stabilized, ‘boxed in,’ complete or done. So it doesn’t surprise me that change for this site might be on the horizon, and I trust that IL will make the best decision considering things from multiple perspectives.

I’ve been here all four of those years, pretty consistently, regularly. If I were to generally characterize the conversations that have happened here, I would say there have been at least 4 focal points, which could be grouped into the 4 quadrants of course, but I’ll just say that there has been a line of conversation that focused on the integral vision itself; a line of conversation that focused on helping one another in healing endeavors; a line of conversation that focused on teaching and learning from one another about the integral reality framework, including some application of it in individual endeavors; and a line of conversation that focused on challenging integralism in various ways, including basic disagreement. People of course participated in these different focal points to whatever degree of interest they had. Other people I’m sure might characterize everything I’ve just said differently, as well as everything that now comes after, but I’ll continue.

As with many new endeavors and opportunities, the initial enthusiasm as indicated by both numbers of people participating and the quality of the participation seems to have eroded. People have left the site and I certainly don’t know why in the case of each, but some of them, I know, have done so out of some basic disagreement with how they perceived integral to be. Some disagree with the concept of hierarchy in general and specifically as they interpret it and its role as applied to the stages of development of the AQAL model. Some have criticized what they see as Integral having a political ideology or a view of capitalism not in alignment with their own. And some of these people have gone on to create other integral online discussion forums (some of which are also having the same problem with dwindling numbers of participation), or to launch their own projects of one kind or another, or to launch an integral careerism, or continue with their own pre-existing projects. Other people have left, I surmise, and wonder about, due to the quality of the conversation itself.

Even in the early days of these first four years, there were people who used hostile language, and people who seemed to have a basic antagonism towards integralism, or Wilberian integralism, which always made me wonder: what are you doing here? My sense is that this has worsened in perhaps the last year. It has become coarser in many ways, and while I understand that part (not all) of this is due to much of the conversation being focused on cultural-political issues where people can become very heated, I wonder about people that may not participate at this site due to this general coarseness of conversation.

And yet, I must add, it hasn’t been all disagreement and coarseness. There has been continued focus on the integral vision. There has been plenty of teaching, and some remarkable teachings from Corey himself at this site, and while I might question how much learning has taken place for some people, that is not due, in my opinion, to inadequate teachings/education. And I have been touched to see that occasionally, someone does show up at the site seeking some healing assistance of one kind or another, not direct hands-on healing of course, but referrals, approach, empathy and understanding, etc. And it has been heartening for me to see that even some people who in another topic thread might be slinging all kinds of mud and worse, can show up to offer compassion and some kind of aid. All is not lost.

I say all of this because part of my process in looking at change is to look at where things have been as well as where they are now; I share it because, well, this is community. I have more to say, and how vain am I to think it important, but this is pretty long already and I have some other things I need to attend to, so gotta go for now.


Should this be members only?

Going to Members Only with public viewing might be just the draw to have people commit to the journey.
How much of your subscriber base is active on the Community forum and how many on the Forum are subscribers?
One draw back currently is there isn’t much activity with the Integral “learned” except for you. Robb might Prairie Dog in. Ken, never seen him. And not sure any of the other speakers ever pop in either. Your interviews/discussions are likely broadly appealing and professionally produced. Having a bridge from the interviews to the forum would be appealing to lots of us and might create actual engagement with the community.
I know you are this engagement bridge, but you’re setup in a very tough situation as “man behind the curtain”, “man in front of the curtain”, moderator, friend, ally, opponent, operations, and Integral dude also sorting out the meaning of it all.

I would also think people might be more forthcoming if also private to members only.


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.


I share your sentiment, Michelle. I too cancelled my membership a few years ago because I just got tired of watching videos and reading articles about Integral yet with no one to share it with so as to encourage each other. It’s hard to apply Integral when you do not have a community of Integralist that can meet in person. A few weeks ago, I went to a Bahai Faith world conference that was taking place around the world at satellite locations. Fortunately, they had one in West Chester University in Pennsylvania; I had just moved there weeks prior for a new job at the University. It was a weekend of talks about the faith. I met many people of different ethnicities and it was very rewarding and thought provoking. I have never heard of the Bahai Faith. A considerable part of their philosophy correlates with Integral theory in various ways and degrees. Unlike Integral movement, the Bahai Faithful are out there in the world striving to make a positive difference, especially with the younger generation. This is not to say that the Faith is better than Integral, it’s just different. It’s very community oriented too. In a paper written in the
Journal of Religion and Health, Dr. Maloney said of the Bahai Faith that

Religion cannot be imposed externally, and true faith is gained only by internalizing the meaning of the writings, utilizing one’s own faculties of mind and soul. The oneness of religion is another important element in the Faith. Religion is “one” because all traditions contain elements of truth, and although the Faith is pluralistic in that sense, there is also an underlying, unifying structure within all religious traditions, revealing a common purpose for humanity. In keeping with the idea of unity, the Faith espouses an inherent harmony of science and religion. Along with this tenet is the belief in a universal education, including spiritual education, which should be made available to every one. Finally, as part of the construction of a unified, divine civilization, universal peace is pursued with the goal of eliminating extremes of wealth and poverty

Polishing the Mirror: Mental Health from a Bahá’í Perspective

Dr. Michelle Maloney
![Journal of Religion and Health] (

While Integral Theory has its place, the Bahai Faith speaks to me in a more humanistic way hence closer to my way of being. It does not create complex theories that you need to study because it’s all too easy to turn them into objects of idolatry as Susan Cook Greuter implied years ago regarding the Integral movement.
Aside from all the above, and if Corey decided to turn this community into a members only with a paywall, no loss here. My main concern has always been growing up more than anything else
because I’m not going to wake up at 3rd tier any time soon in what little life I have left in midlife.


Ultimately, you have to decide what the purpose of having a forum is.
Most web spaces decided a long time ago that either a forum was not useful at all, or that it was and just let it run without much attempt at moderation and they become “wild west” forums. This is why there are so few quality forums out there. Moderation requires time and that time has to realize some kind of goal.

So what is the goal of the IL forums?
Is it to discuss Integral Theory with lay people or with “journeymen”?
Is it to bring in new people or give those already committed space?
The only real reason I can see to have an “wild west” forum is to drive clicks to content

On a side note, I personally dislike subscriptions for the exact reasons businesses like them. I regularly go through my bank statements and cancel subscriptions if I am not using the service. Subscriptions are a way to have a steady revenue regardless of whether the service is used or not. Good for the business but bad for personal budgeting. I guess “unfortunately” (depends on perspective) I’m in the minority and it’s becoming increasingly common for companies to just rake in the subscriptions and reduce the quality of service. I don’t see this as the case with IL, but it is a trend in the online economy.