The fortunate and timely death of The Integral Community…

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.


About kabzj

Kabir is a writer, entrepreneur, visionary, and mentor in his 20th year of quadriplegic paralysis. A founding member of the Patient Pioneers at Project Apollo (how we met), graduate of the world-renowned Generating Transformative Change leadership development program with Pacific Integral, and the executive director of Open Field Awakening, he places his deepest embodied prayer and most sincere efforts towards the fruition of realizing an integral, ethical, and practical expression of impact in the world. View all posts by kabzj

3 responses to “The fortunate and timely death of The Integral Community…

  • Maureen Metcalf

    I really like your summary – it is about bringing integral through yourself (us) to the world.

    I would like to add something of a technical nature. When we take the developmental assessment (MAP) most of us test across a range of developmental levels so even the most highly developed among us have less developed parts and in some case really undeveloped parts. With that in mind, many of us have parts that are us and parts that are them. That could even explain part of the rejection of “them”.

    Seems like a hall of mirrors in this constructed reality.

  • Kabir

    I found this in the directory of part finished writings… I added here for its relevance.:

    The Fortunate Death of the Integral Tribe

    Or, reintegrating the lower left in the integral community…

    In the larger integral community, I am quite distinctly nobody. You would be hard-pressed to find many who would recognize my name, and fewer still who can identify any meaningful contribution I have made to this movement, if I may call it so.

    In that light, I would like to offer this critique in utmost humility. I am offering what I feel to be an important and simple distinction, quite possibly nothing more than a matter of semantics–I will let you decide for yourself its value.

    First let me say by way of disclosure that I am particularly fascinated with the subject of development, specifically as it has come to me through my attention to the work of Cook-Geuter and O’Fallon.

    It is my understanding that one of the qualities of that which has been (until recently) referred to as “first tier” (now, midway through the second tier) is that individuals operating from those structures of consciousness tend to view the world in an in-group/out-group sort of fashion.

    Zak Stein commented recently (in the panel on “Development and Ethics” at ITC 2010) that there had been developmental testing reviewed on a cross section of members of the “integral community” and that the findings had indicated developmental levels “all over the map”.

    This would indicate that some portion of the integral community identifies more with the “tribal model” than the species or, world or, Kosmos centric models, this gives rise to a dangerous performative contradiction within the practice of “Integral”.

    Specifically, this tends to arise in our use of language–in my experience, from Ken on down, when speaking about stages of development and specifically those ranging from Magenta up through Green in third person terms. Objectifying virtually all first, and now half of second tier as “they”.

    From my understanding, the value of Integral is in the way that it brings along and includes the valuable contributions made by ALL of the preceding stages, not simply those deemed “second-tier” or later. No doubt, integral does transcend and add to these contributions, as well as including, but that’s a story for another song. However, within the integral community I often hear these earlier to mid stages of development spoken about as a great issue with which to deal. This view is, I believe, misguided.

    While it is true that we may objectify, and with good reason and use, any of the stages of development as we may identify them–we must also remember it is We who inhabit them. We individually and collectively either have occupied, may occupy, or are currently occupying these spaces of consciousness–therefore, when speaking of them and the way they show up in the world as embodied by people, I would like to hear us speaking more of our own capacities, rather than our need to “manage” others.

  • Maureen Metcalf

    Thank you my dear friend for your clear thinking and the reminder that it is the very process of separating and pointing at others that removes us from the state we see – a sense of oneness with self and with others.

    Any yet – as I end this post it is to return to work with “others”.

    Much love,

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