Integral

In December of 2004 I read The Atman Project, a book by Ken Wilber that introduced me to integral philosophy, an outlook that has influenced my approach to many aspects of life. Integral philosophy is a form of holism that promotes an inclusive, balanced and comprehensive approach to understanding existance. I’d like to share a bit from Integral Institute’s website that explains the approach of the philosophy well.

“Integral” means “inclusive, balanced, comprehensive.” The Integral approach may be contrasted to other methods—mythic, rational-scientific, pluralistic—which, as they themselves announce, exclude other approaches as being inferior. They are thus, by definition, partial and incomplete. These latter methods, although widely accepted and dominant in the world’s cultures, tend to generate partial analysis and incomplete solutions to problems. As such, they appear less efficient, less effective, and less balanced than the Integral approach.

Thus, to briefly summarize: the Integral approach looks at any problem—personal, social, ecological, international—and attempts to identify all of the important variables that are contributing to the problem in each of the five major domains (quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types). A truly Integral approach might draw equally on systems theory and meditation, technological innovations and emotional intelligence, corporate culture and behavioral modification—the full spectrum of potentials in all of the quadrants, all of the levels, all of the lines, all of the states, all of the types.
The Integral approach thus elicits solutions that acknowledge and incorporate all of these important factors, without excluding or denying any of them—because all of them are clearly affecting the present situation and the problems being generated, and anything less than a truly Integral approach might actually make matters worse, not better.

Yes, all of this may be tough to process initially, but the application of integral theory is quite straightforward. We are called on to incorporate as much knowledge as possible when dealing with any problem or when attempting to reach any goal; an integral tactic will be as holistic as possible, taking into consideration everything we can discern, learn and potentially do.
Integral approaches to many of today’s problems could help immensely. Would someone following integral theory refuse to engage in genuine discussion in any endevour? Not only could we cut through ideological oversimplification and blindness, we could certainly advance many fields by exploring the working elements of others (I’ll soon write about how this applies to taking open source from the world of software into the world of DIY craftwork and related disciplines). Now more than ever (are we not living in a world undergoing immense change?) we need to start exploring integral ways to live.

8 comments on “Integral

  1. Ken Wilber borrowed a lot of his ideas from a man called Adi Da Samraj, or Da Free John. Ken used to be a student, and won't acknowledge where he got his stuff from. If you're interested, go to http://www.adidam.org for the original teachings.. 🙂

    Not to put Ken down, he's a good man.

  2. I imagine Ken, while diverging from much of that teaching, also wanted to make his work accessable to everyone, from scientists to artists. If he had referenced a man widely regarded as a cult leader, I imagine he'd have little hope of reaching most people.

  3. Ken Wilber borrowed a lot of his ideas from a man called Adi Da Samraj, or Da Free John. Ken used to be a student, and won't acknowledge where he got his stuff from. If you're interested, go to http://www.adidam.org for the original teachings.. 🙂

    Not to put Ken down, he's a good man.

  4. I imagine Ken, while diverging from much of that teaching, also wanted to make his work accessable to everyone, from scientists to artists. If he had referenced a man widely regarded as a cult leader, I imagine he'd have little hope of reaching most people.

  5. As I understand that, Ken is being open about his opinions and need to be careful about recommending charismatic spiritual leaders and has a solid foundation for doing as he does. The bias of the site you shared does favour Adi Da, but from those letters it's clear what Wilber intends and it doesn't seem contradictory or cowardly.

  6. As I understand that, Ken is being open about his opinions and need to be careful about recommending charismatic spiritual leaders and has a solid foundation for doing as he does. The bias of the site you shared does favour Adi Da, but from those letters it's clear what Wilber intends and it doesn't seem contradictory or cowardly.

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