What is the Future of Integral Itself?

I hope I might see some of you at this session on Integral Life.

Integral Theory, as most of us know it, is one of the most useful sensemaking tools around, and is the baby of Ken Wilber. Although his first book was published in the 80’s, Wilber himself has largely remained a recluse over the years. The period of time during which he was most visible in public was approximately around the late 90’s to about 2006 when there was a flurry of conferences and seminars by the Integral Institute resulting in blossoming a global community. However, after that short stint, serious health challenges forced Wilber back into a more private space.

Right around that time the leadership of Integral Institute, including Wilber himself, decided to make the organization “less Wilber-centric.” It was to Wilber and his teachings that the community was attracted, but it was not sustainable to grow an organization around a single person (and a person encountering health challenges).

The work Wilber began continued to expand as a new entity known as Integral Life. Even without Wilber’s physical presence, there have always been multiple initiatives and events such as several Integral Theory Conferences at JFK University, Integral Spirituality Conferences and Integral European and Brazilian conferences just to name a few. Integral Theory has continued to influence CEO’s, educators, researchers, academics, business developers, writers, artists, politicians, doctors, tech-visionaries to everyday moms and pops raising kids. The “AQAL map” is still very much in use inside countless arenas from British Columbia, Canada to Auckland, New Zealand and so much elsewhere in-between!

As the years have gone by since 2006, the then robust “integral movement” that gathered around Ken Wilber has transformed, morphed, expanded, deepened, mutated and—to some degree—in certain ways, has also shrunk.

Meanwhile, as Wilber predicted more than 2 decades ago, postmodernity has risen well and truly, with its gifts and disasters (as is the case with evolution). Welcome, culture wars! In response, especially in the last 5 years or so, multiple communities, intellectuals, academics, learning platforms and influential figures (think, Intellectual Dark Web as an example) have sprung into action. Where there was hardly anything else intellectually juicy for us curious seekers back in the day, now—in the age of Likes, shares, subscribers, tweets, retweets, tiks and toks—it is impossible to keep up with the number of podcasters, YouTube Channels, authors, bloggers, vloggers, cultural commentators and teachers. Some of them are heavily influenced by Integral, and some who were members of that Integral community years ago have become staunch critics of all things Integral. It is also natural that many of the teachers and leaders of Integral have died or are aging.

It is long overdue for those of us who might see ourselves as “integralists” to truly celebrate what our journey has been and also examine and explore with a critical eye where we might want to go. What, indeed, is the future of Integral? Should its influence be more intentionally shaped? By who? How should the community and movement grow, if that’s a desire? Where’s the succession plan?

I, your session host Nomali, joined the integral world in Boulder, Colorado in those early, exciting days around 2002. I have witnessed a lot both from within and without Integral. I’d love to bring one of my favourite and most integral practice tools–Polarity Perspectives–to this inquiry into the future of Integral with you. I hope you’ll join me.

Optional related material to check out:

The Polarity Lab is hosted once a month by Nomali Perera to learn how to spot and work with polarities in your personal and professional lives, relationships and the hyper-polarized world around us nationally and globally.

Through small experiments, discussion, and small groups, let’s explore this beautiful practice that builds complexity-resilience and synthesis of interdependent and competing values. Our work in the Polarity Lab is inspired by the work of Barry Johnson, the author of And: Making a Difference by Leveraging Polarity, Paradox or Dilemma.

These Polarity Lab sessions have thus far examined hot-button topics that polarize us such as abortion, the pandemic, Critical Race Theory, immigration, culture wars, as well as issues that are personal and unique to each attendee. If you have a polarizing issue that interests you for a session, please contact Nomali through www.practicalintegral.com.

Optional: Join up to 10 minutes early to chat, meditate or engage in some music together. Please note that the Zoom link will appear on this page 15 minutes prior to start time.

Meet Your Practice Leader

Nomali Perera, MA, PCC, has been in the field of leadership development coaching, facilitation and teaching since 2007. Nomali is a certified Polarity Practitioner through Polarity Parterships, and a certified Integral Master Coach through Integral Coaching Canada. Learn more about Nomali at www.practicalintegral.com.