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AQAL Spirituality essay (4,000+ words) feedback encouraged

Last post 01-04-2007, 2:34 AM by yogafrog. 8 replies.
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  •  12-30-2006, 8:37 AM 17363

    AQAL Spirituality essay (4,000+ words) feedback encouraged

                We begin this essay with a friendly yet critical appreciation of some Zen teachings I would like to give a personal vignette that should explain in part why the subject of discernment in spiritual practice is deeply important to me.  While I had been practicing meditation in the Theravadin tradition with a pandit for roughly one year in a very joyful atmosphere when I started to read certain books on Zen (and also from listening to the Theravadin teachings) I started to acquire a perspective of ignoring [or over-looking as ‘not important’] towards such things as emotions and relationships.  Due to the emphasis that is placed on practice being a freedom from the manifest world we see practice instructions urging us to not become ‘attached’, not take our emotions personally, that relationships will disappoint us and are temporary. These teachings are delivered in a bid to firstly free us from our identification with these things and secondly nurture an identification with awareness, with Mind, taking refuge not in the ‘10,000 things’ but in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha or the ‘3 Faces of God’ as a Wilber 5 (Wilber, 2006) perspective would reframe it.  Often under this view things like a talking therapy are referred to as becoming ‘lost in thought’ and as we can see in the work of Packer (2002) emotions and thoughts are treated as merely hormonal or nervous in their origin, meaning they are reduced to physical phenomenon.  I will argue that this approach of reductionism is firstly false and secondly deeply harmful as it remains not just as an idea but an active and enduring denial of a part of one’s own being.  Towards the letting go of identification with ‘form’ and identifying with awareness I will say that it is a valid practice but would urge people to conduct this re-identification in a healthy and integrated way.

                It is deeply ironic that Packer (2002), who is based completely in a meditative and therefore phenomenological practice, is giving voice to a reductionistic and materialist viewpoint. In her book Packer argues that emotions are nothing but neurons firing and we really shouldn’t make that big a deal of things on that basis, there is constant reference to the brain, to conditioning and to an evolutionary perspective of personality.  It appears to me that implicitly within this presentation there is a use of scientific findings in order to validate the perspective that is being presented and it is understandable that a teacher would want to use such crucial and groundbreaking findings as found by empirical data and interpretation.  I am arguing however that to do so in the manner Packer has is misleading, uninformed about other complementary perspectives on subjective experience and acts as a message that promotes repression of intra-psychic material.  The constant use of the word “brain” and other biological functions to refer to the origins of experience is useful but it also ignores the subjective reasons and realities for experience. It ignores that the mind cannot be reduced to the brain but is in fact the interior correlate of the brain and the brain is the exterior correlate of the mind within the individual.  We can see clear support for this in studies showing that meditators have a larger pre-frontal cortex than non-meditators and this means that an interior, subjective and volitional act such as meditation influences and correlates with the physical brain, it cannot be argued that the brain instigates meditation and alters itself without the introduction of subjective choice occurring within the mind. The fact that a meditation teacher has overlooked this and presents a teaching and perspective to her students about their own being, their own humanity, is absolutely startling and displays how deeply the empirical perspective has colonised other views.  There also arises a strange dualistic split between the true identity as awareness and the merely almost random and meaningless firings of the impulses in the brain in the individual, the former is what is ‘really real’ and the later is something that is not really worth understanding on its own terms or from its own perspective, which is inter-subjectivity, language, personal meaning, authenticity with self and other as well as a host of other phenomenological realities.  Following from this I argue that the claim by Zen teachers of realizing the ‘stateless state’ and going beyond but including everything is not false but with views like this it is under-developed in the relative world of personal understanding of the mind and the thoughts on their own level of meaning.  Also excluded from study are historical structures and inter-subjectivity due to philosophical perspectives such as this recent trend in materialism or in the ascending ideal of ‘going beyond dharmas’ and therefore not paying them much attention in a detailed way.   What I mean by this is that while practitioners from the contemplative traditions will genuinely pay attention to their own phenomenology and often give very close and intimate attention to the felt sense of emotions and their accompanying thoughts there is rarely a dialogue about these thoughts and feelings but only a monologue occurring in isolation on the cushion. It is then very rare that a practitioner will really start to look at the personal meaning of an emotion or an enduring feeling or perspective and look at its historical genesis in a developmental or psychodynamic context.  The meditative schools view the mind as awareness and objects arise within that awareness, it does not have a concept of an internal parent, sub-personalities or how the individual can actively hide parts of his or her self without becoming conscious of it, without it even arising in awareness but acting outside of it.  This would certainly be reinforced if the teacher they had supported a view that what is really important is resting in and as awareness and saw the personal self as merely the chatter of neurons whizzing around a skull.  Under this view there is also a privileging of sensory motor actuality over the actuality of thought, which is dismissed as somehow being thoroughly ‘non-actual’ as we can see in Beck’s (1997) work as well as many others, claiming correctly that thoughts are part of our ‘drama’ but not seeing them as much else. Yet drawing on the work of Fritz Perls (2006) we can more strongly highlight the personal actuality of thoughts and emotions, which are often ignored by the contemplative traditions compared with the existential, personal and pre-personal that can be addressed with Humanistic, Cognitive and Psychiatric approaches.  This has its positive aspect as we can see how often we think thoughts that are not matching what we see but are more day dreams about what we want but the contemplative perspective often seems to present the ‘thought realm’ as inherently illusory and does not recognise that thought requires a level of complexity to come into being and is justified and honourable within its own field. Acknowledging this we can study thought, thinking, meaning, interpretation and inter-subjectivity in an appreciative and rich manner, rather than as only treating it as getting ‘lost in thought’, that perspective also being the case and valid but also being partial as the perspective itself arises from thought through interpretation of experience or is expressed as meaning.  Here I have presented a critical account which does not fully represent my position but emphasises and details the following statement; it appears to me that Zen recognises deeply the limited nature of thought and emotions yet does not explore them authentically in their own horizon of arising but from a transcendent viewpoint that often overlooks them in some manner.

    Following from this lack of willingness to understand emotions ‘on their own terms’ (e.g. the pre-verbal and verbal elements of emotions) we see even Traleg Rinpoche (2004), a teacher hailed as having a thorough understanding of the West ignoring Western treatment modalities when observing severe mental illness. Traleg takes, perhaps unsurprisingly, a Buddhist perspective in addressing psychosis by framing psychosis as resulting not from a particular state itself but the relationship a person has to that state. Traleg Rinpoche claims that it is not the experience of psychosis (visual or auditory hallucinations) is not in itself a negative thing but a question of how well the ego relates to such experiences, he does mention that a healthy ego is important but by implicitly conflating spiritual and psychotic experiences neglects that psychosis is the result of an unhealthy ego.  This follows a discussion on the importance of not being overly focused on the self, giving the impression that if one could one develop something akin to a Witnessing practice on psychotic breaks one would not need to be disturbed, if that is even possible this perspective neglects effective treatment of mental illness, again on its own level; which is not transpersonal but often pre-personal or even organic. For an excellent addressing of these issues in more depth please see Scotton et al (1996).  Using a psychiatric method we can say the person is mentally ill if they are experiencing certain symptoms in certain ways (e.g. a drug trip would not be a mental illness but can be ‘psychotic’ in that a separation from normal reality can occur with either ‘breakdown’ or ‘breakthrough’ states) and these symptoms need treating by either getting rid of them or managing them with medication that hopefully makes psychological intervention possible. After articulating these various critiques of Buddhism, which is spectacular at what it aims to do, it seems that without a wider framework of awareness and embrace we are destined to endure Full Zen, Partial Theory.   


    From this discussion we move into a discussion and a more detailed look at the often quoted statement of repeated exposure to states lubricating the spiral for a person’s individual development.  It’s not only that states help us move through stages but that states experienced  within the appropriate crucible of a challenging and supportive culture help us to move through stages. Therefore someone experiencing direct awareness of God, inner silence or other states, while on a suicide mission will believe “I am righteous”; of course there won’t be much time left for his/her vertical development by then anyway but it still points towards cultural factors!  We can imagine, I am unsure if there are phenomenological accounts of this, suicide bombers as viewed in the recent 9/11 incident or the Kamikaze pilots schooled in Buddhist philosophy from Japan during World War Two and the states they would have experienced, some of terror, some of ‘religious ‘bliss and how they would have been interpreted. As described by Packer (2002) (I am using this source again to display the multitudes of claims present or missing from a single text that does not recognise other approaches in a coherent manner but is valid in its own way) a Marine in Vietnam had what would be called in AQAL terminology a ‘causal peak experience’, being released into the Undying, when he believed he was about to face certain death. The culture he was in however did not provide support for the report of his experience and actively repressed it, the culture most likely expressing a materialistic viewpoint and he didn’t not have a more useful viewpoint that enable him to interpret this to foster growth for many years. We can estimate that if it had been expressed within a Mythic (amber) culture there would have been support granted to the particular cause the organisation was working towards from a God figure blessing the individual with ‘Holy Glory’. Had that experience been experienced within a Magical (red) culture we can imagine that experience being more totemic and had that ‘peek’ been experienced at a green pluralistic level we could imagine an even deeper questioning of any fixed dogmatic views pertaining toward absolutisms of any (conscious) kind.  So to reiterate it appears that the claim that states help us move towards higher stages is a product of a Wilber 4 perspective and that a Wilber 5 perspective allows us to see that not only are states required but, as Kegan (1994) recommends, challenge and support towards higher structures of epistemology and reconstituting the self-system in such ‘relative’ matters as education, philosophy, relationships, work and conflict need to be fostered.  It appears that this was somewhat missing or under-emphasised within a Wilber 4 perspective because the transpersonal states were incorrectly located on top of personal stages and therefore it made sense to say that states become traits and therefore higher stages, which as we can now see is true but partial and with strong cultural factors to be considered.  With this appreciation of states and stages in mind we now move towards a related topic of how both states and stages ‘speak through’ an individual.  There is often confusion, and there has been confusion for thousands of years, created by a lack of acknowledgement, through lack of appropriate methodology, of stages in most or all contemplative systems. As these systems work with states and do not have appropriate awareness of a genealogy of structure stages of growth there is often a justification of a system’s teaching that originates from a particular structure, such as most traditions being homophobic, a typically Amber value, which can be more easily highlighted using an AQAL framework. Also as a note before we look at how the Green Altitude is being expressed unknowingly in Buddhist circles as Dharma we can see that contemplative practice often refers to moving through ‘stages’ of maturation yet what they refer to is termed ‘state’ maturation in AQAL (‘horizontal’ not ‘vertical’ growth) and if this is not made explicit can lead to communication difficulties.


    As stated previously there is at present, due to a relatively new structure of consciousness emerging among the West, a confusion of the Dharma, or inter-twining of the Dharma, with the expression of post-Modern level perspectives.  Also this ties in with a Nihilistic interpretation of Buddhism, which is a repudiation phase, probably with its genesis being a movement away from Orange towards Green or full Green development in the cognitive line of the self-system.  Buddhist thought has its deconstructive elements of philosophy and practice and one example of this is the deconstruction of the self in first an intellectual way and secondly in a direct experiential way, as shown in an assessment of and meditation on the impermanent and empty nature of the self. These first start in logical ways in discussing the way in which, perhaps, the molecules of the skin come and go and are replaced and we therefore don’t have a single thing called an arm but an ever-changing impermanent entity mistakenly perceived as ‘our arm’ being a fixed possession we own, in a way that facilitates a shift in our intellectual (false) perspective. This then matures into an awareness of the transient nature of all forms and the Timeless nature of awareness, such an example can be found in Traleg (2004).  However this meditation can be wrongly taken as a nihilistic doctrine of mere repudiation, especially when the Timeless Awareness or Self is not adequately addressed, and people then start to simply deconstruct all knowledge as impermanent and empty and changing and ultimately meaningless in a way that Derrida himself would be proud of[1]!  If a person adopting this perspective finds themselves in a dialogue they do not like there is a tendency to reply with “that’s relative” or “you shouldn’t become attached to ideas” (which, bizarrely, doesn’t make any statement about the truth of a view but is only a recommendation regarding one’s relationship to a view) and other gems such as having “no knowing” (which can often hide mere ignorance as opposed to Divine Ignorance). Buddhists themselves, such as Traleg (2004), again I am criticising and taking support from the same text to demonstrate the many dimension contained within one presentation, deny this interpretation of the Teaching as correct and maybe we could call this Green expression of Buddhism ‘(Adolescent) Angst Buddhism’. Following from this Green worldview arise criticisms regarding AQAL theory I have heard from Buddhist practitioners that have become aware of very valid points of mindfulness;


    1. Recognition of the creators of systems having a vested interest and privileging certain groups.
    2. Recognition of the limited nature of fixed systems
    3. Recognition that rationality itself is limited
    4. Recognition of cultural differences and they way culture shapes and limits perception
    5. Recognition of the structure of language influencing perception

    These critics fail to recognise that these statements and genuine insights only arise from a Green Altitude or higher.  Cognitively this view correlates to Kegan’s 4.5 Order of Consciousness, which is mainly a repudiation of the systemic perspective of the 4th Order of Consciousness, what Kegan calls deconstructive as opposed to reconstructive post-Modernism.  These criticisms also fail to realise that in theory AQAL transcends and includes such valid recognitions.  It therefore seems that Buddhists taking this perspective, and in so doing screaming other people out of the dialogue and claiming they have the Truth, instead of making room for others’ views and appreciating them on their own terms, are mouthing the words of Dharma or even trying to communicate their genuine experience of Dharma but expressing themselves from a Green or deconstructive epistemological base.  This perspective often has narcissistic undercurrents because the theme that emerges is “anything I don’t like I deconstruct” while however implicitly taking their own truths, and that of deconstruction, as indestructible pre-given fact.  Oddly while using an AQAL assessment of myself as the writer of these words I find that my cognitive perspective is somewhere around Teal/Turquoise or Kegan’s reconstructive 5th Order that is able to take deconstructive perspectives as object rather than hidden subject, yet my self-sense is around 3.5, meaning that my self-sense is struggling and trying to grow its way towards stable Orange, a pre-Green structure.


    We now move towards an issue that is of more global importance then whether or nor privileged spiritual practitioners fully move beyond an already advanced and pluralistic structure of epistemology (that nevertheless is a political nightmare) and turn our attention to a look at the world’s situation in terms of the most prevalent structure of understanding in the religions, which is pre-Modern.  This is an extremely pressing world issue and while the Dalai Lama has gone on record to say that not everyone should follow Buddhism and that the world’s religions are like a menu at a restaurant and different dishes serve different people there is still the sense among many practitioners that if people just followed our system things would be just fine with the world (ethnocentric).  This applies to many Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews and so forth, not being the ‘fault’ of the system itself but the expression of a valid yet limited structure of knowing and being.  The main point here seems to be providing people with the developmental space to move into stages of their own practice (what is often more aptly described as a faith) that are higher than Mythic. This of course is a huge request as so much momentum has been built behind the religions at a Mythical level, therefore the religious hierarchy itself is saturated with a petitionary (magic, mythic) motivation, which is heavily internally reinforced and not compatible with a Rational Orange worldview. It seems therefore that “religion” has been conflated throughout the world as automatically being “magic or mythic perspectives”, with even many contemplative practitioners feeling that Science is either somehow threatening or useless, and this will take a lot of time to change! Richard Dawkins recently remarked that he once believed most reasonable people believed in Science and was shocked to learn just how many people believe in pre-rational Religion in a documentary remarkably titled ‘The Root of all Evil’; both of these statements most likely being due to not recognising any developmental spaces of higher actualization within his theory of Man.  It would be very helpful for such people as Dawkins who grew up in a deeply Rational household (which is fantastic!) to see that at one time they would have still had a magical and then mythic relationship to their parents, seeing them at one period as The All Powerful Providers for example, and that other people are still embedded within cultures and structures that emerged during mythic periods of Humanity’s growth..  If we use the ‘Kosmic Habits’ analogy of grooves being cut into the soil the ‘Santa Claus God’ habit is very deeply ingrained indeed and one perspective that we will all pass through in one way or another and with many different surface structures.  This widespread lack of people developing to a rational stage of development, Wilber gives the figure that 70% of the globe are operating from an ethnocentric, pre-rational stage, should not be surprising to Dawkins when we consider the other cultural, societal and educational factors that go into developing to an Orange Altitude, coupled with Modernisms’ aggressive attack against interior realities.  Developmentally speaking Orange needed to repudiate Amber worldviews in order to see beyond the lack that had previously ensued and there were plenty of good reasons to do so! Orange is more insightful, more conscious, more caring and more inclusive than Amber, however when Orange rightly saw beyond Amber constructions of reality it was not also able to include Amber perspectives about Religion into a developmental space and merely said “God is dead, the mind is dead, the soul is dead”, with a resulting rupture and schism being created, which has yet to be resolved. There are still adults in Modern Western countries who believe that human beings did not evolve, the Bible is the Word of God and that there are certain delineated rules to life that must be kept or you will go to a place after you die called Hell, because you are a disgusting ungodly person.  For people with such a perspective a drastic reformulation of deeply cherished beliefs, which are entrenched in social structures and cultural visions, would need to ensue and cannot be done on a merely intellectual basis but seemingly only when a person is ‘ripe’ for change into a more sophisticated perspective.  I am unsure of how to foster more people developing to Orange other than providing conducive conditions in which to do so, such as a cultural fabric that supports Orange development yet does not isolate and attack Amber constructions, as this would likely entrench them, yet also keep contained Amber views that try to ‘shout out’ higher perspectives in a public location.  As an example of this in the UK we can see many examples of this ‘Altitude clash’ in the media circus surrounding the integration of Islam in UK culture and perceived persecution of Christians in what becomes an ‘us vs. them’ atmosphere. In dealing with such issues we need to be able to appreciate the needs of the speaker and discover a way in which those needs can become congruent with wider society in a way which does not begin to corrode the Orange developments that were and are so hard won. It might appear then that the world needs more contemplative religious practitioners due to cultivation towards compassion and a friendliness or ability to work with Science often displayed by contemplative communities. However this is probably not a viable or even desirable ideal because firstly it is unreasonable to expect masses of people to start walking the Path of Saints and secondly we can see that many Religious figures while being adept at spiritual practice were themselves deeply ethnocentric, both growing within an ethnocentric culture and later reinforcing that culture with their teaching due to it being expressed through an Amber altitude. What is more practical therefore is a greater developmental space being fostered throughout the four quadrants that is conducive to people actualising Orange Altitude. We can also see the rather bizarre phenomenon of people at an Orange or even Green level of development that engage in contemplative practice and become more and more narrow, more and more intertwined or entrenched with the contemplative community and its beliefs and more and more ethnocentric, they actually start to regress towards Amber!  Due to the contemplative traditions not possessing a perspective that really embraces multiple methodologies it is no surprise that these kinds of problems go unnoticed in many ways and so perhaps on that note we would do well to follow Wilber’s advice of supplementing practice with other valid and healthy perspectives.


                We now end this essay that has looked predominately at quadrants, states and structures as they relate to Zen practice in the West and more Global issues that Wilber 5 aptly dubs the ‘Conveyor Belt’ of development.  We have not addressed the extremely important area of types and the problems caused by improper practice modalities, we have not looked at an Integral Life Practice yet most of this essay is part of a Framework or Mind practice/yoga and other questions of methodology, a critical appreciation of the presentations/claims of AQAL and questions relating to the falsifiability of Spirit have not been addressed yet I keenly await a written exploration of these ideas in the near future.





    Beck, C. J. (1997) Everyday Zen. Thorsons, London, UK


    Kegan, R. (1994) In Over Our Heads; the mental demands of Modern life. Harvard University Press, London, UK


    Packer, T. (2002) The Wonder of Presence; and the way of meditative inquiry. Shambhala, Boston


    Scotton, B. W., Chinen, A. B., & Battista, J. R. (1996) Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology.  BasicBooks, New York


    Traleg, K. (2004) Mind at Ease; self-liberation through Mahamudra meditation. Shambhala, London, UK


    Wilber, K. (2006) Integral Spirituality; A startling new role for religion in the Modern and post-Modern world. Integral Books, London



    [1] Regarding the nature of the self it appears there are pronounced pitfalls to the view that there is no self as it potentially leads to dissociation. A humorous yet sad example I witnessed in a ‘Sangha’ was one student remarking that “I still feel there definitely remains a sense of self” being met with the tempestuous reply of “Buddha said there is no self!” by a senior practitioner. This struck me as particularly ironic and left me wondering who was getting so upset at someone else’s view!

  •  12-31-2006, 12:00 AM 17426 in reply to 17363

    Re: AQAL Spirituality essay (4,000+ words) feedback encouraged

    Hi Richard/Yogafrog,

    I think this is superb.   Incidentally, what kind of feedback are you looking for exactly? i.e. is this going to be published and you are looking for feedback to perhaps further develop, enhance or in any various way make it better? Or by feedback do you just mean discussion.

    On discussionary notes, again, I find this superb. The points about developing cultural support are extremely important. That really is very much at the heart of what we are doing here isn't it? I find myself continually and continually amazed at how when it comes to spirit, spirituality or spiritual issues even the most thinking and insightful of people are utterly at a lose as to any sort of interpretive and explanatory framework past mythic. The result usually being either a.) neglect of spirituality due to the seemingly irreconcilable confusion or b.) the slow, gradual or sometimes even rapid regress to mythic as soul and spirit start to become more important. And that's really just the beginning . . .

    (In fact, even though it's a long story and I already knew better for years and years, I even found myself falling into this-the power of myth combined with spirit-before finally -actually out of frsutration discoering AQAL and all of Ken's work. I thought I was going to have to do it all on my own until then!)

    Another thought: First your explanation of green worldview becoming the dharma is very clear and insightful. In fact it helped me even understand it better. One of the things that AQAL has illuminated in my own experience however is something that maybe doesn't as often get explained so clearly. And that is how, again in my own experience, despite the fact that a non-spiritual materialistic orange worldview is being rejected (or transcended) none the less the "godlessness" of that worldview is still being perfectly accepted without question. In other words, I have known several people who adopted Buddhism because it allowed them to have some kind of spiritual practice while at the same time proclaiming that "there is no God" (mythic or otherwise). So in other words very similar to or another angel or perspective on how you opened your essay with the illuminating of the blatant influence of scientific materialism even in the works of otherwise spiritual practitioners or even masters.

    Once again, that just goes to show how powerfully it is that we are molded by our culture and how necessary it is to build better cultural and societal supporting structures for more integral, less partial and fragmented (and confused!) worldviews, translations and understandings.

    Last note for now, I also much appreciate your treatment of psychosis vs. spirituality (or a Buddhistic view) . . . better working models and frameworks of this could also help better situate and translate such things for western Christian understandings also. As just one example take petitionary practices and teachers against such problems and realities. (i.e. How could this happen when I prayed for it not to? and all the resulting questions from that etc.)

    Okay, all for now.

    Peace, Tim


    "With whom or with what are you in communion at this moment?"
    . . ."I?" he replied, almost mechanically. "Why not with anyone or anything."
    "You must be a marvel . . . if you are able to continue in that state for long."
    -Constantin Stanislavsky
  •  12-31-2006, 5:09 AM 17442 in reply to 17426

    Re: AQAL Spirituality essay (4,000+ words) feedback encouraged

    Excellent, thank you very much. Really on the type of feedback, all is welcome. I was thinking about your pen running out of ink and thought that maybe you could get a refill the next time it runs out? 


    All I can do is agree with the novel points that you've raised so I'm afraid I'm going to be a broing conversation! :  )  I was very interested in what you said about regression occurring due to practice and that as we practice we can actually become more ethnocentric and more mythic and more cult-like and all that unfortunate business. Again, yes, I think culture is so important in this regard, practicing with different groups, practicing with groups you don't agree with (even once) just to see they are beautiful people anyway.

    One thing I would notice about what you said that I'm interested in however is something I have noticed that is an equating of the Altitudes with Spiral Dynamics values, e.g. Orange = materialistic. This is certainly partly the case but I think Kegan's work shows that it's the level of complexity we can order experience and to order epistemology according with the Orange/Modern altitude is for Kegan the ability to be "self-actualised" or "organismically self-aware" and is therefore a high level of development. Many spiritual practitioners, myself included, have some degree of state access but are not exactly "self-actualised". So there's another way to look at Orange.

    Thank you for your time

    Richard (aka yogafrog) 

  •  12-31-2006, 8:17 AM 17449 in reply to 17442

    Re: AQAL Spirituality essay (4,000+ words) feedback encouraged

    I know, I actually found myself making an effort to say a little more than "yes, yes, I agree!" Here's something else -another impression- it's so good and wonderful to here someone else express these things so well and obviously so from their heart and experience/observation. Other than one's self, but also other than Wilber. On that count alone it was a delight to read. In fact, that right there is a sign of and effort towards just those cultural ideas we're interested in.

    Anyway, I still haven't read Kegan. Is this "self actualization" perhaps a little different than say Maslow's? Or kind of like a first step? (i.e. whereas, say, Kegan's is the ability and even need to persue "life, liberty and happiness" in one's own way and on one's own terms-which brings about certain degrees or aspects of self-actualization-and Maslow's is more of an all out 100% full potential in all and any possible way sort of self actualization?)

    Do you think it's a common mistake to believe state realization will inherently "solve" the self-actualization problem? i.e. once I'm enlightened everything will naturally take care of itself!? Heh, heh . . . I know I've made that one . . . "if I am fully enlightened then that girl will surely like me!" etc.

    I was very interested in what you said about regression occurring due to practice and that as we practice we can actually become more ethnocentric and more mythic and more cult-like and all that unfortunate business.

    Well, I can off-hand think of several people who have come to various degrees of sudden awakening of some sort or new found spiritual realization but the only translation of such they have available -or are perhaps even willing to attempt to comprehend-is mythic Christianity (or sometimes a mythic Buddhism which kind of turns out like a super-imposition of a mythic Christian framework or its general contours onto Buddhism). I know one person who went into a serious regression and it was so clearly because some kind of stable framework was needed to handle the whole thing and a fundamentalist embrace of the Bible offered his seemingly only option. (In fact, there was type of magical fear that arose and os in that way it makes perfect sense that a stable mythic Biblical embrace would help remedy that-both the whole thing was overall an immense regression.) A couple years later he "came out of it" but it always struck me as such a sad and tragically unnecessary occurrence (because this person was clearly already at a very high level of cognition and in other ways but that was just no match for the power of the "shock" of spirit and the alluring stable and familiar safety of myth).

    Another person I know, again, had a certain kind of spontaneous awakening and again, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible with a mythic and fundamentalist view became the natural allure. He seriously wanted to transform and turn his life around but I knew if he went back to the dominant mythic forms he would quickly find himself totally turned off and probably drop the whole thing. In a pretty short order this is what happened exactly and to a great extent. Except that instead of coming back to a more rational equilibrium like the above person, further regressed to the completely wishful magical level (with some help via new age). All of this took place over the course of about a year. The most recent update on that would be a recent expression of how his life is a complete and total mess with strong indication of depression, desperation, hopelessness and confusion with perhaps some indication that thoughts of suicide are arising. TRAGIC!

    And then aside from all of that I simply see it all the time that people want to be spiritual, want to realize their innate spiritual potentials and deepest interior realities but they just don't know how . . . and there is seemingly no one or nothing out there that can adequately help them at there level and in the terms they need. Further, (as with both of the above) those cultural grooves and conditionings are so ingrained and so deep that they are actually resistant to ideas of a spiritual framework that meets them at their level (which I have always attempted to in some way offer or point to). For a number of reasons, but certainly among them is that along with the deeply ingrained mythic structure is the deeply ingrained a. idea that there is no other interpretation possible and b.) even a subtle fear that you are a potentially evil wacko who must be wrong! (Do you get that? Even a modern rational atheist will resist interpretations of spirit from a level beyond myth! And argue with you from an almost fundamentalist mythic level! We've got problems! i.e. the LLF)

    Okay, wow, there's some conversation for ya! That's not quite on the mark from what you were speaking of or asking, but it's certainly another aspect of the same problem.

    Thanks again for your wonderful work.

    Peace Tim


    "With whom or with what are you in communion at this moment?"
    . . ."I?" he replied, almost mechanically. "Why not with anyone or anything."
    "You must be a marvel . . . if you are able to continue in that state for long."
    -Constantin Stanislavsky
  •  12-31-2006, 12:50 PM 17469 in reply to 17449

    Re: AQAL Spirituality essay (4,000+ words) feedback encouraged

    Again, agreeing *nodding*, agreeing! :  )  *laugh*

    Well, no, certainly states do NOT solve all problems . . . *can't communicate well, that's arising in my awareness, i'm not employable and THAT'S arising in my awareness, I'm not healthy or energetic and that too is arising in my awarness* (head in hands, laughing at myself). There are a lot of, as you say, tragic scenarios because people become wrapped up in their system and also because people deny systems all together!

    As far as Kegan goes the distinction that could be made in moving from 3rd to 4th Order (correlated with Amber to Orange Altitude) is moving from a place of looking towards the other for validation, guidance, values etc. (e.g. the self is 'made up by' the environment) towards what Rogers would call "an authentic self" or organismically aware, an integrated body and mind, whereby the self can now operate on the environment and hold it's own views. [In interesting point for me in that is that people part of a sub-culture away from the mainstream often think they have transcended the mainstream, which might be true, but the are still operating from the same self system, which means they are being 'made up by' a different environment, not going beyond being made up by an environment as the core identity].  So looking at Maslow in this light we can say 4th Order (Kegan) fits Maslow's "self-actualised" but does not fit Maslow's "self-transcender". However, we may need to reformulate Maslow in light of Wilber 5! Kegan also looks at the post-Modern self-system and DAMN that is just amazing and I think to some extent still very hard for me to grasp what it is! I can only really recommend his book 'In Over Our Heads; the mental demands of Modern life', it's really worth-while. 

    Thank you for this (continuing) dialogue


  •  12-31-2006, 7:16 PM 17483 in reply to 17469

    Re: AQAL Spirituality essay (4,000+ words) feedback encouraged

    Okay, you've inspired me. I am putting Kegan next on list to read ASAP. Ken once called him "everyone's favorite developmentalist" and everything I hear supports that. His reviews on are all glowing. Can't wait.

    Now, you said: emphasis mine.

    [In interesting point for me in that is that people part of a sub-culture away from the mainstream often think they have transcended the mainstream, which might be true, but the are still operating from the same self system, which means they are being 'made up by' a different environment, not going beyond being made up by an environment as the core identity]. 

    I can't just let that go as a general "I agree" -have to give that a full Yes [Y]

    This has been one of my "gripes" since even a teenager. It's just to easy to call yourself "non-conformist" while in reality still being totally conformist to simply another culture or group, etc. Again totally agreed that there is a major difference between this and ""an authentic self" or organismically aware, an integrated body and mind, whereby the self can now operate on the environment and hold it's own views."  (I know that people worry about this being the case here all the time, but a.) I find still no evidence of that and b.) at any rate that's not why I'm here and c.) this is a misguided view anyway-perhaps hyper-sensetive to anything resembling "comformity" which is, of course, just silly.)

    A lot of the things you say - your ! and puzzled reactions I, again, like you almost laugh because the same ! and puzzlment is so familiar to me. (LOL How can you hold that view of reality!?Surprise [:O]Hmm [^o)]Huh? [:^)])

    Anyway, all for now. Good stuff.

    Happy New Year!!!Party!!! [<:o)]


    "With whom or with what are you in communion at this moment?"
    . . ."I?" he replied, almost mechanically. "Why not with anyone or anything."
    "You must be a marvel . . . if you are able to continue in that state for long."
    -Constantin Stanislavsky
  •  01-01-2007, 5:14 AM 17508 in reply to 17483

    Re: AQAL Spirituality essay (4,000+ words) feedback encouraged

    Cool! He's definately worth it. I read his book then came back to it again with the course and got so much more out of it the second time, he's fantastic!


    HAPPY NEW YEAR to you too dude. {of course from a deconstructive perspective there is no such thing as New Year because it's actually just signifiers}  Big Smile [:D]




  •  01-01-2007, 12:42 PM 17534 in reply to 17363

    Re: AQAL Spirituality essay (4,000+ words) feedback encouraged

    That is quite a challenge.  I hope to finish this essay.  I happen to be starting "In Over

    Our Heads".  Wondering if I will be able to keep up as ILP is a priority along with work that I am trying not to do anymore.   It will work out the way it will.  And these writings are here for the long run and that is a good thing.  I  read enough to be interested and feel I can learn and curious about what you have written as your story.

    Namaste  Pattye

  •  01-04-2007, 2:34 AM 17680 in reply to 17534

    Re: AQAL Spirituality essay (4,000+ words) feedback encouraged

    Thank you, I look forward to when you have time to read it. Alos interested in your thoughts on Kegan.

    warmly, Rich

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