Obituary of a fairytale.
I must say, as I contemplate what I’m about to write I am struck by the idea that it is essentially, in many ways, an advocation in the negative. I mention this because that is just the type of approach and will often cause me to stop reading an article or a blog, or other writing. I just have this tick that says over and over again “add, contribute, generate, be creative… don’t waste your energy tearing down, let entropy and time take care of the evolutionary garbage. Grow and become what is to evolve.” Compassion is blind, it loves both that which is living and that which is dying equally.
In any case, off to the races…
I have been exposed to the field of “Integral” for about four years now. And I love the beauty of this movement in time. The language, the collective idealism, the people with a shared sensation of “this is really something, we are going somewhere.”
Within that, let’s call it “The Integral Community” I hear many people identifying with “Integral”, and why not–that is what we do; we identify with a concrete self. Again and again I find myself defining myself, even in relief–“I am not that which is defined” (another definition, and concrete as any.) If we must find ourselves awakening again and again to a constructed identity of self, why not find ourselves identifying with ideas and qualities and stories and other concrete objects of selfhood that carry some ethical or moral virtue?
Integral, that is an ethical or moral virtue, is it not? After all, Integral is a movement of Compassion–is seeking to embrace, include, and bring forward that which has come before and still retains some form of vitality, as well as to meet and enjoin that which is to come. Isn’t this what so many of us find attractive about this way of looking at the world, ourselves, and each other in it? Aren’t we all seeking that which we love, to be loved, and to love—that we might find ourselves safely embraced, and safe to embrace?
Yes, if I must identify–I would like to identify with love and compassion and integration with that which I identify with as “other”. I would like to identify with you, fellow traveler, and possibly even fellow embracer of “Integral”. That is after all, what makes us “The Integral Community”… or does it?
Within The Integral Community, a theme I have heard emerging from nearly every corner, again and again, indeed even from some of the “highest” seats of this establishment, is and are the “problems” of and posed by (what I will here call) first-tier. All of those people and structures and systems which are not Integral, indeed the great majority of us on the planet today, represent the levels of development, thinking, and worldview that have created the conditions which we are now facing as imminent challenges. For those of us in The Integral Community this poses a very “us versus them” kind of problem. This problem: how to steward “them” as they become “us”, and to prevent them from doing much more damage on the way; is a fairytale. There are beautiful ideas hidden within it and behind it, but it is not real.
I have two concerns with this.
First, as you may have picked up, there is this condition of us versus them, and their potential inability to “be” us without some serious work.
Second, there is the very identification of ourselves as “The Integral Community”.
I will take the second first, as I believe it will inform the first.
Who is The Integral Community? In my experience, it is far more than the few individuals I have met whose consciousnesses are truly grounded in what appears from here to be an Integral Wave in the evolution of being. What this means, is simply that many of those of us who identify with the ethical and moral virtue of Integral, are simply not at our cores, that. This in no way diminishes our aspirations, our hopes, our triumphs and our failures–it simply means, that we are in fact “them”.
It might seem a little cliché… “begin within”, “you can’t be part of the solution, if you’re not part of the problem”, and other seeming platitudes–but these are the realities within our identification with being here in the first place.
Integral, it seems, is not necessarily integral.
But we can be. The moment we realize that “integral” INCLUDES those things “not integral” (remember: I am not that which is defined) we find ourselves one with the very challenges we imagine ourselves to be facing. We are in fact, all of those levels that don’t seem to want to “play nice” with an integral agenda. Not only is that “them” ourselves, but it is our children, our lovers, each other.
The next time you’re in the room with “integral conversations”, listen for the silences where there once was “those who are not yet integral”, and remember–it is not about bringing anyone into “The Integral Community”, that never existed, it is about bringing integral through yourself to the world.