What is integral?

So this is a quick reflection about the integral philosophy, mostly associated with but not limited to Ken Wilber. What is integral? To me, the most important aspect to this is what integral points out; release from our fixation of “things.”

One of the most important claims integral makes is that its own stage of consciousness is able to be “a-perspectival,” that just means the ability for a human being to find open space in himself or herself. You are not your thoughts, they are objects of your awareness. Finding that still, openness in you is like discovering the mirror-like pond reflecting the moon, as they say in Zen. What integral offers is a particular methodology that helps you discover that you are not your thoughts, so why be so fixated on one ultimate perspective or another? It liberates you from perspectives by showing you that part of you which is the source of perception. It is not something “other,” it is none other than yourself.

This is very beautiful. Not many people in our culture, or civilization easily reconcile this aspect, because it is easier to point our blame and our salvation towards some “other.” But that other is none other than we. Without this open space, we have become too fixated, destructive, inflexible. An ailment of our modern civilization. By coming to a greater awareness, becoming more conscious of our already-whole nature, we offer the world abundance of “being,” without needing to be some thing.

So some of my friends and folks I speak with on the internet and off, ask, what is the most important aspect of integral? To me, that “zero point” is it. That you are not your thoughts is the most liberating and transformative aspect. Now, there are many ways to come to this, so what is integral? It is not any particular map, diagram, or philosophy in general. That would miss the point. I think it would also be missing the point if we assume that teaching others our particular maps, diagrams or charts of consciousness IS integral. It may not be helpful for everyone. The beautiful thing is, that we are not our thoughts applies to all human beings. That “source,” is something we all share, and are quite capable of realizing in ourselves. That is what helps us recognize the unity of human nature, our collective unconscious soul that is awakening. By limiting ourselves to a single way of transmitting this message, we only choose to limit our potential to impart this beautiful recognition. We also run the danger of repeating the same mistake, of representing the flowers as the roots. If a particular way works for you, such as Wilber’s philosophy, that is wonderful. All ways lead to the source, but it is very important to always keep this in mind. Integral is but a word, a synonym for the source, and there are many ways to consciously recognize that we are already “that.”

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One thought on “What is integral?

  1. I appreciate reading this. We get fixated on our thoughts and schemas and limit ourselves w/in them. My sense is that many of us are aware of our fixation tendency, but our awareness STILL doesn’t prevent higher level reflections from being seized by our lower level fixations (similar to your recent quote on Twitter). That’s why it’s important we invite some level of debate with conflicting frameworks, perspectives, and maps. As Ramesh Balsekar says, use one thorn to remove another.

    My current perspective is that we are actually both our thoughts AND not our thoughts, and I don’t necessarily equate Integral as the Source, but the point you make is still universal. Thanks for the reminder.


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