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Integral relationships

Last post 05-10-2007, 6:03 PM by ambosuno. 684 replies.
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  •  09-17-2006, 1:12 PM 8172

    Integral relationships

    Ken's work is brilliantly illuminating in many ways, most especially about personal experience, the province of Zone 1 or the Upper Left Quadrant.  Personal values and states and stages are explored as never before.

    But all the quadrants are equal.  And I guess for many of us, our personal relationships, in that Zone 2, Lower Left Quadrant, are at least as important to us as the development of our consciousness. If nothing else, a billion love songs testify to that.

    Grace and Grit is a marvellous and deeply moving record of Ken's own personal relationship with his partner, Treya.   And David Deida has contributed some major integral insights into integral approaches to relationships.  I recall a couple of fascinating dialogues between Ken and John Gray on IN.  But this area still seems a little sketchy to me.  Especially as Ken rightly calls intersubjectivity - the phenomenon of relating and relationship -  the 'miracle of miracles', outshining most other things in the universe.

    So I thought I'd outline what seems to me a way of thinking about an integral perspective on relationships.   Pick it apart as you wish - we can learn together...intersubjectively...Smile [:)]

    First, 'love'.  Now, the word 'God' comes in for a lot of criticism these days, because it comes with so much ontological/metaphysical baggage.  Its not that we don't want to talk about the Divine - its just that the available words carry too much history with them.  Isn't this also true of 'love'?  'I love you'.  What does that mean, exactly?  I'm highly attracted to you?  But I love my son as well as my wife.  My dog as well as my mother.  I want to share your life?  I care about what happens to you?  Agape?  Eros? What?

    And then, even though we may be 'in love', we don't necessarily have a relationship.  Maybe we can't get on together.  And we sure don't have one if I love you but you don't love me.  So, love doesn't = relationship.  What does? What is this 'miracle of miracles' everyone seems to long for in their lives?

    From an integral perspective, I'd say that a relationship is on-going intersubjectivity.  Momentary intersubjectivity isn't a relationship:  my chat with the postman this morning doesn't mean that we have a thing going on...Smile [:)]  But it was intersubjectivity at a certain brief and shallow level.  You and I are sharing such a moment right now, in so far as you're sharing what I'm trying to convey.  But its somewhat shallow still , not least because its pretty one way so far - until you respond....

    So, the intersubjectivity has to have duration, and it also has to have depth.

    Now, depth is the tricky part.  I'll throw out the suggestion here that achieving intersubjective depth is the LL equivalent of achieving higher stages of consciousness in the UL quadrant.  Any takers for that idea?  If not, what would be the equivalent?

    Traditionally, love is a mystery. It just happens.  We fall in love, we suffer, we yearn, we transform ecstatically in each other's arms.  Though that would only be the sexual type of love, of course.... I think that integral illuminates this mystery, without making it any the less miraculous, and at the same time clarifies how romantic love and family love and so on are related.

    A love relationship is a case of enduring deep intersubjectivity.  Whether or not sex is involved is only a surface issue.  Its the same thing underneath, whatever the nature of the participants. 

    Increasing intersubjective depth means increasing intimacy.

    Real intimacy is as miraculous and enobling in our lives as access to higher states of consciousness. Anyone who has experienced it is likely to agree with that.  So, how do we achieve it?

    In the UL, you meditate and engage in spiritual practices to increase the chances of development.  In the LL, the practice is to empathise.  

    This, for me, is one of Ken's penetrating insights.  Whether it originates with him, who cares?  He points out that we have to see the world from the other's point of view.  Until we can do that, we can't have a relationship.  The way into intimacy begins with empathy.  And Ken points out - again, brilliantly - that empathy is not an emotional activity.  Its an intellectual step.  I have to think myself into what its like to be you, through listening to you, observing you, hanging around you.  Once I can do that, my emotions will follow. But my emotions can't do it by themselves.  They'll just give me an extension of myself.  They'll bang blindly into your differences and won't understand them.  Only my mind can do this job.

    Of course, empathy is only the start.  The miracle itself will only happen if we BOTH empathise with each other.  Otherwise, empathy but no intimacy.

    It might seem all seem a little cold, put like this, I guess.  But my own experience sure bears it out.  As an egotistical youngster I didn't have relationships, I had physical and emotional encounters.  I didn't know what intimacy was.  Gradually, as I developed and became less self-centered, I was able to empathise more, and now and then the encounters grew into deeper mutual experiences.  It was a long time before I found real intimacy.  Learning to mutually relate was a spiritual journey just as much as prayer and meditation were.

    All of which sheds light on why people find relationships so challenging. In this context, you'd expect it!  One partner empathises more than the other.  Neither partner empathises even though they're crazy about each other physically and the sex is amazing.  Parent and child can't empathise because of expectations and history.  And I guess that it also sheds light on why people keep trying all their lives to find intimacy, to find intersubjectivity:  its because the Spiral is pulling them in that upward direction, and its tugging at those hearts which need to share as well as those souls which need to transcend....

    Thoughts?

    ~ David

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


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  •  09-17-2006, 3:08 PM 8177 in reply to 8172

    Re: Integral relationships

    Davidd:

    And then, even though we may be 'in love', we don't necessarily have a relationship.  Maybe we can't get on together.  And we sure don't have one if I love you but you don't love me.  So, love doesn't = relationship.  What does? What is this 'miracle of miracles' everyone seems to long for in their lives?

    "Unrequited love" isn't really love at all. It's one-sided, and short-circuited. I had a boyfriend whom I thought I loved years ago. I wanted him so badly, thought about him all the time, dated him for a year or so, etc. But he was not in love with me. Years later, I could look back on that and feel mostly nothing for him.

    I believe that love is eternal, and that if you grab a piece of it while in relationship, you always love that person, even when you are no longer having a relationship. But the circuit has to connect. I think of past loves that were shared, and I have a deep sense of connectedness to that person, no matter the distance between us.

    You seem to come to this conclusion on your own by the end of this post.

    But in this sense, then, love seems to be conditional. Perhaps it is when you've gone through this process that you can then love unconditionally--fully? What about your children? They can be horrible ungrateful brats, and you still love them unconditionally.

    Liz

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  •  09-17-2006, 3:46 PM 8182 in reply to 8172

    Re: Integral relationships

     Davidd wrote,

    "And Ken points out - again, brilliantly - that empathy is not an emotional activity.  Its an intellectual step.  I have to think myself into what its like to be you, through listening to you, observing you, hanging around you.  Once I can do that, my emotions will follow."

    Thanks for reminding us that empathy is an intellectual step because this gives me encouragement.  I was a complete flop at '80's and '90's emotional I.Q. "testing."  Just ask (apologies to Tam/Liz for using the phrase) my ex's.  They can testify that my I.Q. in those lines falls well below the one in the cognitive line.

    Just like a guy.

    -No longer lurking Mark


    Just enough enlightenment for this time around, please.
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  •  09-18-2006, 11:31 AM 8279 in reply to 8182

    Re: Integral relationships

    I'm having a hard time with the empathy-intellectual leap thing.

    I get the concept, but when I relate it to myself, I don't remember a time (though obviously there was one) when I didn't feel others' pain. Is it simply that that line of development was more advanced always? If it takes an intellectual leap, at what developmental phase would that be?

    Liz

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  •  09-18-2006, 3:12 PM 8298 in reply to 8279

    Re: Integral relationships

    Liz,

    Maybe you worked your way up to blue earlier than many of us.  I understand that the ability to take another's point of view would not be possible before that ethnocentric stage.  This kind of empathy would be beyond the range of an egocentric red mind.  As cognition precedes the other lines as we move up the memes, you may have been a bit precocious if you can't remember when you "didn't feel other's pain."

    But that wouldn't really surprise you, would it?

    Now I'm wondering if others can recall when they first felt someone else's pain.

    Peace, Mark


    Just enough enlightenment for this time around, please.
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  •  09-18-2006, 3:18 PM 8303 in reply to 8279

    Re: Integral relationships

    Hi Liz, and welcome to the pool at last, Mark!  Hope you're enjoying splashing around.... Smile [:)]

    Good question, Liz:  too bad that I don't know the answer....!  I'll take a stab at it anyway, and see what you think....

    Developmental phases:  well, normal childhood development is supposed to be a gradual decline in egocentrism, from complete fusion with the mother to identity with the child's own body to identity with its own emotions to identity with its own thoughts...all of which occurs by age 4 years.  Next stage is to shift from egocentrism altogether with the emergence of the capacity to take the role of the other - identity with the group.  The most important thing in the world at this stage is how the kid fits in with his/her peers. Pathology at this stage could mean that the child never reaches sociocentrism and becomes sociopathic.  Normally, some capacity to empathise with the other has been achieved: as you say, mostly we always seem to have been able to feel another's pain.  And we have.

    Wilber's point (got from Piaget) is that this is an intellectual achievement, not an emotional achievement.  As Mark reminds us, its actually a skill, which is learned and can be improved. As Goleman's scales indicate, we can be poor at empathising, adequate or exceptional.  Linking this in with integral, I would suggest that empathy is the (UR?) interpretation of another's UL experience.  That's my suggestion for the way into intersubjectivity, though intersubjectivity is LL quadrant.   Am I right in my suggestion?   We can't 'get into someone else's head', but by observing them, 'reading' them (UR), we can come up with an interpretation.  Wilber's 'hermeneutics'.  How else could we do it, short of psychic powers?

    Once we correctly interpret that the other is suffering, we can 'feel' for them, we can harmonise or resonate with them emotionally - cry with them or recall similar experiences of our own, as actors do (Tim will shed some light here I think), enabling us to 'feel' with them.  But if we get the initial cognitive interpretation wrong, we won't feel with them appropriately.

    If I'm on the right track here, all this would apply to love and relationships.... Liz, I totally agree that unrequited love isn't a loving relationship, but would you say that the love itself can't be real?  Don't we often, sadly, see that - people being rejected even though their feelings are genuine?  What I would say is that people can love a fantasy.  Of who they want or need the other to be.  Even then, the love is real - its just not for a real person.  Its for the fantasy substitute. 

    Seems to me that this kind of thing is more common than really deeply intimate relationships, where both parties accurately interpret and feel with the other, and find themselves sharing that 'miraculous' worldspace of intersubjectivity.  But I'd personally add that we shouldn't get too depressed at the failures we're going to encounter in pursuit of such treasure.  Its just like spiritual practice, its a journey, and there's many a relationship (yes, I'm speaking autobiographically!) which started out unpromisingly and found its way into the miraculous depths....

    Good wishes

    ~ David

     

     

     


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  •  09-18-2006, 3:36 PM 8309 in reply to 8303

    Re: Integral relationships

    Thanks so much, guys. Yes, this does make sense. Actually, Mark, I'm not the most advanced person socially...so that's why the confusion on my part. I was a loner and an oucast at a young age.

    Can't write much more as I have a migraine. No coherency.

    Liz

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  •  09-18-2006, 4:10 PM 8315 in reply to 8309

    Re: Integral relationships

    I know about migraines.  Feel free to not read this until the headache's gone

    Actually, Liz, Ken's line is that cognition is necessary but not sufficient as the vanguard of the spiral.  So how "successfully" socialized you become, and (as Davidd's post relates) there's a myriad degrees and kinds of ways to do that, it still is predated by cognition.  For example, you may have been very cognizant of how other kids were feeling, even though it wasn't very nice for you. 

    Can others relate and/or comment?  I may be way off base here.

    -Mark

     


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  •  09-18-2006, 5:03 PM 8324 in reply to 8315

    Re: Integral relationships

    Of course, Mark. I'm not thinking very clearly, LOL! Makes sense.

    Liz
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  •  09-18-2006, 5:52 PM 8344 in reply to 8172

    • marianthi is not online. Last active: 02-09-2008, 6:07 PM marianthi
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    Re: Integral relationships

    Intesubjective depth.  I´ll get to that, David.

    As a life long empath, one who can easily feel what others feel and can sometimes even have intellectual cognition of where they are at, I can say from a personal perspective: No, this does not give rise to a deep relationship, even if the other person shares the same space of recognition.

    For this mutual recognition to turn into love a will or desire to give of myself and receive from them AT A SIMILAR DEPTH has to happen.  And as this exchange increases and occurs for a prolongued time ´´ Increasing intersubjective depth...  (and) ... increasing intimacy´´ take place,  to paraphrase your wise words, David. I also see that a deep trust is involved in that exchange and a deep surrender.  A recognition of the sacredness of the one who is loved, the one who loves, the bond formed (the us-ness) and of love itself: that ineffable, divine gift that opens up our true self like nothing else can.  And it does not have to be solemn or grave for us to feel the sacredness.  We know insults and disregard are desaccration (sp?) there.  But often they happen.  Someone forgets what is really at play, someone forgets the great, sweet discovery that can keep on unfolding.

    Enough.  Blame Liz for pulling me into this forum for a look.    

    Cheers,

    Marianthi.

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  •  09-18-2006, 7:55 PM 8365 in reply to 8303

    Re: Integral relationships

    But all the quadrants are equal.  And I guess for many of us, our personal relationships, in that Zone 2, Lower Left Quadrant, are at least as important to us as the development of our consciousness. If nothing else, a billion love songs testify to that….

    Linking this in with integral, I would suggest that empathy is the (UR?) interpretation of another's UL experience.  That's my suggestion for the way into intersubjectivity, though intersubjectivity is LL quadrant.  

    You said it David, to have integral relationships, all the quadrants have to be implied. This intersubjectivity has to find life in the LR quadrant . Even with duration and depth, without life, the movements of life, there is no integral relationships.  There is no love, just the learning of love. Something without realization, no matter what is this realization.  The need of a completed wheel to transcend.   

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  •  09-18-2006, 8:14 PM 8367 in reply to 8344

    • Ramsses is not online. Last active: 12-03-2006, 5:28 PM Ramsses
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    Re: Integral relationships

    marianthi:

    Enough.  Blame Liz for pulling me into this forum for a look.    

    Thanks, Liz. Lovely to have you back, Marianthi.

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  •  09-19-2006, 12:40 AM 8378 in reply to 8344

    Re: Integral relationships

    marianthi:

    For this mutual recognition to turn into love a will or desire to give of myself and receive from them AT A SIMILAR DEPTH has to happen.  And as this exchange increases and occurs for a prolongued time ´´ Increasing intersubjective depth...  (and) ... increasing intimacy´´ take place,  to paraphrase your wise words, David. I also see that a deep trust is involved in that exchange and a deep surrender.  A recognition of the sacredness of the one who is loved, the one who loves, the bond formed (the us-ness) and of love itself: that ineffable, divine gift that opens up our true self like nothing else can.  And it does not have to be solemn or grave for us to feel the sacredness.  We know insults and disregard are desaccration (sp?) there.  But often they happen.  Someone forgets what is really at play, someone forgets the great, sweet discovery that can keep on unfolding.

    Well, thanks to Liz for pulling you in here, Marianthi!  Deep insights.  And you too, IAMisHome.

    Yes indeed. As Mark was emphasising, the cognitive understanding of the other is the necessary but not sufficient way in to love.   A little surprising, maybe, but there it is.  Otherwise, we're loving a fantasy. 

    But then, as Marianthi points out, even then, with mutual empathy, we don't have intimacy.  We have a relationship - a level of friendship? - but we don't have the deep intimacy we mean when we talk about a loving relationship.  Those words 'surrender' and 'recognition of the sacredness of the one who is loved' evoke something of what Ken calls the 'miraculousness' of intersubjectivity, don't they....  Again, paralleling UL higher state experiences.    And intersubjective intimacy IS a spiritual experience - transforming us. 

    I guess that the integral view - which is the 'view from 50,000 feet' - helps because we can see that we can't just parachute in to such intersubjective depths, as those billion love songs might imply...  We have to travel there.  And the journey begins with trying to understand other people.

    Smile [:)] 


    'This is all the time you'll ever have'.
    ~ Dr Hannibal Lecter
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  •  09-19-2006, 4:40 AM 8382 in reply to 8344

    Re: Integral relationships

    It’s really easy to have a smell of that.  Partners being together as strangers. A relationship starts generally with a recognition of the outside, a LR encounter with attraction of a kind or another.  Too often,

    marianthi:
    someone forgets what is really at play, someone forgets the great, sweet discovery that can keep on unfolding
    as you say Marianthi.  Just to think of it, it’s pure sadness.  Not just for lovers but the entire kind of relationships.   To know better the other by a cognitive understanding is certainly a step forward.

    David, all those love songs are a UR expression of, at the same time, an UL personal experience and of a LL cultural vision of expected love (or Ideal).  Expressed in the right side push on the transformation of love, or the culture of love.  Commune of ‘60s, open marriage, multiple love are different tries to achieve the same result, the depth of love.  Even if other could say it is really not a good mean to achieve it, the intent is genuine and the result valuable collectively probably.

    Even in friendship, it’s not so easy to find this wish to discover the unicity of a person. This community can do that.  I believe.

     

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  •  09-19-2006, 7:44 AM 8389 in reply to 8177

    Re: Integral relationships

    OK, I have to admit I haven't read the whole thread yet...this is my own response to what Tamgoddess is saying, cross-pollinating with ruminations on a past relationship.

    tamgoddess:
    Davidd:

    And then, even though we may be 'in love', we don't necessarily have a relationship.  Maybe we can't get on together.  And we sure don't have one if I love you but you don't love me.  So, love doesn't = relationship.  What does? What is this 'miracle of miracles' everyone seems to long for in their lives?



    "Unrequited love" isn't really love at all. It's one-sided, and short-circuited. I had a boyfriend whom I thought I loved years ago. I wanted him so badly, thought about him all the time, dated him for a year or so, etc. But he was not in love with me. Years later, I could look back on that and feel mostly nothing for him.

    I believe that love is eternal, and that if you grab a piece of it while in relationship, you always love that person, even when you are no longer having a relationship. But the circuit has to connect. I think of past loves that were shared, and I have a deep sense of connectedness to that person, no matter the distance between us.


    You seem to come to this conclusion on your own by the end of this post.

    But in this sense, then, love seems to be conditional. Perhaps it is when you've gone through this process that you can then love unconditionally--fully? What about your children? They can be horrible ungrateful brats, and you still love them unconditionally.

    Liz


    I'm really unclear about the distinction between "love" and "in love" - so let's note that level of ambiguity as a background to whatever I say here. It seems better not to let my mind get too carried away in this area; my heart does better here.

    "The circuit has to connect."  I can think of a few complications.  For example, what if the other person says - as someone in a past relationship did - "I love you but I'm not in love with you" - does the circuit connect? 

    It also seems possible that there could be a dichotomy between what is said or understood on the surface and what's going on at deeper levels.  And it's complicated by the fact that - IMO - if two people are genuinely friends there is some level of "love" involved on both sides. 

    Ack, I'm going to stop this line of thought for now and just let it simmer - the whole topic gets confusing to me - so in conclusion I'll point out that this whole area seems hugely complicated and problematic to me in terms of thinking about it.  Language seems so incredibly imprecise and inadequate to address this complex and multidimensional territory.  It's like writing a book about swimming versus jumping into the ocean and just swimming.

    I have a lot of past experience with unrequited love, as well as more complex and ambiguous situations, so this is an interesting topic for me.  (Interim observation: the requited kind is better.)  Um, I've probably gone off on my own crazy tangent here, so nevermind - carry on.  Smile [:)]

    I'll read the whole thread at some point and maybe jump in again.

    r.thor

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