Integral 102

This is a sequel to Integral 101, posted a few months ago here on the universe, and also recently on my new blog, imiponointegral.wordpress.com, which is a site for an organization I plan to start, which will study political and cultural issues from an integral point of view.

Why are you unhappy?

Because 99.9 percent of everything you think,

And everything you do, Is for yourself,

And there isn’t one.

– Wei Wu Wei

Ken Wilber notes that there are two threads in religions – one that consoles the self, the exoteric, and another that obliterates it, the esoteric. The first he calls translation, a reinterpretation of reality meant to console the self. The second he calls transformation, a deconstruction of reality which points to the reality in the quote above – that there is, in fact, no self at all (at least not one separate from other selves).

In the film Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon’s character “schools” a Harvard graduate student, not on history, but on the ways the student will view history as he progresses through his program. What we think of as the stable self is, in fact, highly unstable. This instability has two dimensions: it is unstable from moment to moment (this is bad), and also over long periods. This second form of instability is positive, as it is development itself. Having gone through phases of historical understanding, Will Hunting knows that these are predictable stages of understanding.

The first human stage dates to the tribal period in which connections to tribe and kin meant life or death. In this phase, connections to one’s close group are the only ones that matter. Wilber relates these phases to the chakra – the first phase’s focus is survival, it’s color is red. In the second stage, early states or empires claim  allegiance. In this phase the idea of “civilized” people, as opposed to “barbarians” begins to emerge, as in the Hellenic nations which shared a code of honor which did not apply to non-Greeks. This stage’s focus is reproduction, its color is amber. The third stage is modernity, which corresponds to nation-states and their reliance on reason and science. Its emphasis is ambition, its color orange. Developed countries tend to have a center of gravity at this level, with approximately half of its citizens at this level, and slightly less than half at lower levels. The fourth stage is postmodernity, and emerging level of development found mainly in academia, among environmentalists and artists. Its emphases are diversity and compassion, its color green. About 10% of modern societies’ citizens are at this level. The fifth stage is the first of the integral levels, at which a postmodern aperspectivial confusion gives way to a more holistic view that begins to reintegrate the insights of religion that are jettisoned at the orange level and critiqued at the green level. Its emphasis is balance and its color turquoise. Between two and five percent of the populations of advanced societies may be at this level, and perhaps much fewer. The level(s) above turquoise are so exceptionally rare that only a few individuals in history have reached them/it.

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