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A living spirit grows and even outgrows its earlier forms of expression.
This living spirit is eternally renewed and pursues its goal in manifold
and inconceivable ways throughout the history of mankind. The names and
forms which men have given it mean very little; they are the changing
leaves and blossoms on the stem of the eternal.
Our sense of space and time has changed radically within the last few
decades. New technology has invited us to become globally connected – to
increase our sense of space from local communities, to nations across the
world and to the cosmos. Far from fulfilling the dream of world unity and
solidarity, we find ourselves connected from without, but alienated from
within. As our space has increased we discover clashing values and
different worldviews threatening to divide the world into the elite and the
impoverished at a time when global problems require cooperation and
alliances to deal with terrorism and international crime. We are faced with
the complexity of multiperspectives in diverse cultures in a newly
globalized world. We must now enfold egocentric and ethnocentric attitudes
into a worldcentric consciousness that aligns with the widening global
living space we now inhabit. But how?
Time has speeded up. Adaptation will require flexibility in letting
go, coming apart, and coming together again more rapidly. There is
something different about today’s changes. The pace of change is somehow
faster, the frequency, and amplitiude of restructuring and reforming are
significantly greater, and the pathways of emerging futures seem to be less
predictable than they were in earlier times, says Ray Kurzweil, author of
The Age of Spiritual Machines. Where is this leading us
New understanding of Reality as a living, evolving system and advances
in evolutionary biology and in nanotechnology give rise to the question of
what it means to be human. Solutions that worked in the past under
different space/time conditions and different views of Reality no longer
suffice. History reveals that when humanity is faced with new challenges
that cannot be solved with old thinking, new capacities at mental and
biological levels will evolve. We are now living at a point in history when
changing life conditions are of such a magnitude that a new worldview with
a transformative vision is beginning to emerge. We call that Integral.
Western scientific materialism and relativism, offered countless
benefits, but their limitations left us barren of feeling and alienated
from one another. They left us longing to return to the basic moral
intuition of the good, the true and the beautiful in a new holistic
embrace. They left us bereft of meaning and passionate purpose in a
valueless world. We now need a comprehensive Integral vision that balances
the limitations of prior worldviews and that helps us find our way through
this dangerous transitional period in human history.
An Integral perspective “honors all dimensions of existence
from body to mind to soul to spirit as they unfold in self, culture,
social structures and nature thus overcoming partial solutions and
putting ourselves in an historical process leading to a wider process
of cosmic evolution,” says Ken Wilber. It includes the
development of new human capacities beyond the rational mind and
systems of systems thinking – including intuition, subtle knowing,
nondual consciousness, and nature attunement available only to the few
today, but the hope of the many in future generations. For Wilber the
whole evolutionary journey is one of unfolding Spirit in Action.
Integral is emerging as the leading edge worldview – a grand synthesis
that is comprehensive enough to embrace all of life in its many
manifestations. In sum, an Integral worldview includes the benefits
and limitations of all worldviews, honors new ways of thinking,
embraces increased sensitivity and brings spirituality back into the
world. Its rich theory is being refined and expanded by an increasing
number of serious practitioners and students. Spiral Dynamics
Integral (SDi), strong on practical application, is one integral
approach that closely aligns with the seminal work of Ken Wilber.
The two major features of an Integral approach for our purposes
include: 1) Quadrants and 2) Stages of Development. Analysis is
seriously distorted by partial views without consideration of both
quadrants and stages. (For a map of quadrants and stages, the heart
of integral approaches, please refer to the last page of the colored
The Quadrants – Ways of Seeing
Shaping a new global civilization that is sustainable involves
attending to the four universal perspectives of any living being:
intention, behavior, culture and social systems. These perspectives
are interdependent and thus arise simultaneously. Conflict will ensue
if we mistake Reality or Spirit for only one of its four expressions
or if all quadrants are not evolving simultaneously. Interior
development must match exterior behavior and social organization if
they are to be sustainable and have integrity. All interior spaces
have biological and behavioral parallels and all interior life is
embedded in social contexts with historical limitations.
Some examples of the partialness of single perspectives that lead to
distortion illustrate the need for an Integral approach that includes
all four faces of Spirit. The most obvious example and the most
dangerous is the lack of a global ethic to handle modern technological
developments including weapons of mass destruction. An ongoing
conflict between East and West has focused on whether the individual
or the community should take priority. The Integral approach says that
both are intrinsically connected – not either/or but both/and.
Scientific rationalism in the “It” dimension has gained
ascendancy in the Western World at the expense of inner development
and bonding connections. Relativism, popular in academic circles
today has emphasized subjective reality at the expense of objective
reality. Spirituality has been relegated to the chain of being in
interiors rather than in its full potential for service and social
action in the world. Systems theory, developed as a holistic
organizing theory, excludes interior realities. All of these partial
perspectives are resolved in the Integral Worldview.
At the United Nations emphasis is on demographic factual
presentations, which describe reality from an objective perspective at
the expense of the subjective impact. Few international leaders are
aware of how subjective reality colors objective decisions. Cultures,
too, have insides as well as outsides – where felt meanings, shared
feelings, and mutual resonances are the basis for solidarity, so
coveted by the global community. Integral designs offer comprehensive
solutions that bring awareness to and facilitate the conditions for
change in cultures, institutions, individual intentions and behavior
as an interdependent unit.
The United Nations has acted as a pacer for transformation. It has
often institutionalized global standards, treaties and laws with an
idealism that lacks the political will to implement them. Objective and
rational solutions that do not touch interiors with felt meaning and
resonance will lack the will necessary for the kind of changes needed in
today’s global world.
As I write this article the relevance of the United Nations is in
question. It has been the organizing principle of the international
community since 1945 (LR). The United States is threatening unilateral
action which if enacted will change coalitions and alliances between states
(LL) as well as the intentions (UL) and behaviors (UR) of other individual
states, leading to a different form of global governance (LR). This is a
timely example of the importance of taking into consideration the
interdependence of the four dimensions of reality in an Integral approach.
There are many ways to utilize the quadrants to understand and find
solutions for current world affairs. The reader is invited to test the
comprehensiveness of their own ideas by using these perspectives from the
The Dialogue Among Civilizations at the UN did not gain the momentum
it needed, in my view, because the developmental spectrum of deep
values and closed mindsets were not understood in the public debate.
Deep values lie below the surface and are penetrated only by a series
of “Why” questions designed to contact the essential motivation. The
Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington, is based on the horizontal
diversity of civilizations such as Islamic, Christian etc., and does
not address the critical difference between deep values and mindsets
within civilizations, which are at the heart of today’s global
crisis. Osama Bin Laden frames the crisis as a civilization war
between Islam and Christianity. An Integral interprets the crisis as
a clash between radical fundamentalist and moderate worldviews.
The underlying motives for dialogue at Beige to Green are based on
fear and are often closed to other perspectives. These motives can be
simplistically articulated as follows:
Integral levels (Yellow/Turquoise) are free from subsistence needs,
they understand and value diverse perspectives, and therefore, can
engage in genuine dialogue. The evolutionary order of deep value
structures through which individuals and cultures unfold reveals why
dialogue often ends in frustrating value clashes rather than in
Survival and safety are fundamental. Human rights (Green) will not be
a major concern if survival and safety needs are not satisfied.
Failed states breed terrorists, the strong and strategic exploit the
weak, personal freedoms are sacrificed for safety and security, the
growth into violence and fixed absolutist belief systems close the
debate. Meet the 21st century challenge. The First World style of
life cannot be sustained without meeting the more fundamental needs of
the Third and Fourth Worlds (see Stratified Democracy Table page 6).
Developed countries must facilitate the fulfillment of the basic needs
of survival, safety, self- esteem and education to help avoid closed
mindsets that lead to the violence now emerging as the central threat
to international peace and civilization as we know it.
Integral views (Yellow/Turquoise) transcend and include all the other
deep value structures. Holism replaces the partial, dualistic and
alienating thinking of right/wrong, good/evil at subsistence levels. It
endeavors to satisfy the evolving needs of individuals and groups within
the context of the common good. A spectrum of worldviews and global care
and concern are now available to build integral sustainable global
structures and authentic global solidarity.
The undemocratic structure of the United Nations Security Council has
limited its role in global peace and security. In addition states’
interactions have been primarily based on strategic interest (Orange). The
UN will continue to play an important humanitarian role, especially as it
encourages partnerships with NGOs. However, for world transformation, we
need self-aware integral leaders committed to the global common good, who
are familiar with the steps and stages of natural evolution in its four
universal perspectives. They can design global economic and political
structures (LR), facilitate inter-group processes for global solidarity
(LL), provide space for individuals to grow and flourish (UL) and to
practice right action (UR).
There appears to be an intelligent design in the universe evolving
within us towards greater complexity, and wider care and concern. As
we evolve we experience less fear, less narcissism, less attachment to
habitual habits, more inclusiveness, more capacity for love and
compassion, transcendence of cultural traditions, reduction of need
for approval and access to inspiration and revelation. We are urged
from within to grow from a merged state at birth into individualism
and autonomy and then to connect with the whole, now self-actualized
to be co-creators in the evolution of Spirit. The collective evolves
from family to community, to nation to global to cosmic while the
economic base moves from agrarian, to industrial to information and
beyond. Currently we are transitioning to a global information
culture – experiencing all the pains and struggles inherent in
transformative change when a new worldview is emerging.
For those who have eyes to see beyond the chaos of the global
crisis, humanity has progressed both mentally and empathically in its
global concern. In most places slavery is no longer accepted,
environmental concerns and citizen activism is increasing, women’s
rights and children’s rights have taken a great leap forward. Anti-war
protests are international in scope for the first time, designed to
prevent war rather than to stop one already in progress.
Intermarriage between different cultures and curiosity to learn and
celebrate cultural differences is common. Many have spent long hours
practicing disciplines to overcome learned destructive habits and to
manage emotions and conflict. Despite the many twists and turns and
breakdowns that precede radical change, a moral trajectory is being
forged in alignment with an innate urge of humanity for Inner Unity in
Integral is a step on the way, but not the ultimate destiny. After
Integral (Yellow/Turquoise) we enter the transpersonal realms where
intuitive knowing and impressions from higher sources and beings begin to
be experienced and lived within, not as a single peak experience but as the
center of gravity – transcending and including all other ways of knowing.
Blockages to growth are removed freeing us to flow with the needs of the
moment as we cycle in and out of all the levels responding appropriately to
whatever life offers.
In the past global leaders studied world affairs from a third
person perspective with little involvement of their own person or
relations with others. Effective Integral leadership will require
proficiency in all three areas.
Future leaders are currently training in self-awareness and in evoking
inner sources of wisdom, formerly available only to religious
communities. Businessmen, lawyers, doctors, and other professional
groups are practicing contemplation as a method for deconstructing
habitual perspectives and freeing blocks to creativity. The value of
silence and the value of being present in awareness to both one’s
interior and exterior life will soon become a normal way of knowing
and being in the world. Daniel Goleman’s newly acclaimed approach to
leadership involves training in self-awareness, self-management
(emotional and mental), group awareness (sensitivity to group
emotions) and group management (skills to increase morale and positive
emotions). Successful businessmen are known for their intellectual
acuity, but now emotional acuity is making the difference between
average and superior performance.
The McKinsey Company, consultants to leading businesses and
institutions, is offering training in accessing higher dimensions of
creativity and inspiration through the practice of silencing interior
mental and emotional chatter. The process educates in self-awareness,
letting go of control and listening – complimentary skills to
strategic thinking that businessmen have developed to an art. CEOs
are now being exposed to Ken Wilber’s Integral Worldview through the
World Economic Forum in Davos. Business usually leads the pack on
group innovations. Social entrepreneurs working for the welfare of
humanity and United Nations Departments and Agencies would do well to
follow their lead in developing Integral approaches and trainings.
The Spiritual Caucus at the United Nations is serving as a model for
the future as it practices the use of silence for global
transformation. Conversations following extended periods of silence
are more alive with wisdom and inspiration for action than most
ordinary discussions at the United Nations. Aligned with our highest
will, our motivation increases and the political will we need to move
the world is more accessible. We eternally renew our Spirit through
silence. Shared silence enhances that renewal.
Perhaps as we develop, apply, and live an Integral Worldview – Perhaps
as we change ourselves and our relationships – Perhaps as our
sensitivity becomes more acute and our compassion wider – Perhaps in
deep silence we might discover some of the answers we need to
transform us and the world.
Beyond the realms of right and wrong there is a field.
I will meet you there
Nancy Roof, Ph.D. is the founder of the award-winning Kosmos Journal: The Journal for World Citizens and Planetary Civilization, which is based on evolving interior development and cultural values as they impact globalization and world community. Kosmos Associates, Inc. is also actively involved in the founding of the Global Commons movement with James Quilligan of the Global Commons Trust.