On I-I and the Integral Community in General
When I was young, it seemed that life was so Wonderful,
A Miracle, Oh it was Beautiful, Magical.
And all the birds in the trees, they’d be signing so happily,
So joyfully, playfully watching me.
Roger Hodgson/Supertramp – The Logical Song
After reading ex-CEO Steve Frazee's blog on why he left the I-I, my first thought was: “Oh boy, trouble in paradise?” Then
after reading a number of other responses, including Huy Lam’s on
zaadz, and contemplating them a bit – my second thought is – “what a
wonderful thing to happen!” And, yes – I mean that in the most sincere way.
At the risk of seeming to be standing back and looking at all this from a very distant 3^{rd}
person prespective, I would like to offer some thoughts on how I-I and
we (its members/subscribers) might navigate our way through this
formative period. Before doing this, like any other kind of similar
situation, message number one is – “don’t panic”. Take time to centre and breath, and try to look at the big scheme of things. We
all know how difficult this is, but – these moments always point to the
need to have a period of reflection and contemplation.
These recent events certainly indicate that change is happening. Sudden organizational shifts are very much an integral part of the growing and learning process. In the big scheme of things, I think I speak for most if not all that we truly admire Ken for what he’s doing with the I-I. From
my own perspective, I think Ken could have always taken the option of
just simply working at his house, reading, researching and writing and
simply putting out more books. In the last six years, -
and what I think we need to recognize – “in response to our
demands/requests as a community” – Ken has taken the initiative to ‘put
the rubber to the pavement’ (so to speak) and do much more than simply
produce more theory. His writing itself, will always
remain an artifact of his thinking – but as many feminists like to
argue, what the hell is the use of good knowledge/theory if we cannot
embody it in our everday, messy and joyful evolving lives?
So
it seems that what has happened between Steve and Ken over these past
several weeks – as ANY organizational/management expert will tell you
(and many have on the I-I site), is all very much part of the process
for new organizations. AQAL theory should tell us that organizations, as social holons, have stages of development as well. It doesn’t matter how high the altitude is of its thinking or its intentions. Like all development, it must start at square one! I think we need to keep this in mind. In
a sense, metaphorically, maybe the I-I is having a case of the teenage
angst and identity crisis? (If that can be extended from an individual
to a collective development process?).
At
our inaugural meeting of the International Development domain in
Perpignan, France in October (now called the Integral San Frontiers –or
ISF), one of the insights several people mentioned about many integral
initiatives, is that little or less attention is being paid to ‘the
collective’ (lower quadrants); in particular, the lower right. This
is perhaps, as some suggested, because so little attention is paid to
the other three quadrants in the mainstream, that we have a tendency to
prioritize them over the LR (thinking they are being covered by others). But a true AQAL approach has to be “AQAL” to be effective at all, no? How often do we need to remind ourselves of this? Even
though mainstream orange and green systems might be focusing on the LR,
they are NOT doing it from an AQAL/Integral perspective; and this is
something that we need to address. So let’s take a look at it.
As an organization, I-I has already done some wonderful stuff! And I am so impressed and satisfied with my subscription and purchases of its producs and services. The
many seminars and the ILP product, as well as the I-I site itself – are
all significant accomplishments. We should celebrate them. Sure, we would like to see IU and these other things get off the ground a little faster – but hey, it takes time to build furniture that lasts.
As
Huy pointed out in his post on zaadz, we’re all familiar with having
our 10 point to-do list each day, and often find ourselves only
accomplishing 3 or 4 things from that list. It’s
not an excuse to be lax, but we also need to be more realistic about
the ideals and expectations we place on ourselves (individually, and
community wise – as well as those at the I-I). People at I-I, we should expect, are no exception.
I’m
reading and interpreting a lot of this from a distance – and I might be
wrong – but if I can offer one small piece of constructive critique on
what’s going on – it would be this. Ken is already so
far out ahead of the rest of us in his intellect; his ability to
rapidly distill mega-tonnes of information; and perhaps even more so,
his Vision for what I-I really needs to do and be. I can empathize with him, based on my experience on another level and capacity. For
example, I too have crazy, wild visions about what my students ‘should
learn’ and where they ‘might be’ at the end of a course or research
project. But they never seem to achieve as much as I’d
like them too, - and initially I’ve felt that this was my problem; that
I wasn’t teaching or leading effectively, when in fact, much of it is the development process itself.
We
seem to always be lagging behind the ideal; never quite reaching the
full extent of our goals and intentions. In all, I think it points to
the issue of the tension we constantly feel between ‘being’ and
‘becoming’; between ‘vision’ and ‘action’; or more subtly, between the
‘possibilities’ and the ‘probabilities’. So just how do we deal with this tension? What is its mystery and how do we embrace it more fully?
One thought that has come to mind is I wonder if anyone has developed a ‘group’ shadow work method? As
I mentioned above, in our lack of attention to the lower quadrants, is
it not reasonable to at least try a 3-2-1 process to the situation? This is what I offer here. If
I can be just one of the neurons firing in this integral worldview that
is emerging, there is something I need to express; to let go of it, -
to get it ‘out there’ – and see what happens. I will start with the 3^{rd} person by offering some ‘NEW THEORY’ (Yay!!!). Actually,
its not so much new theory, as it is borrowing theory from someone
else, and integrating it and looking at it from an integral perspective. I will then do the other 2-steps to look at how it can be applied in the collective (2^{nd} person); and finish with an introspection on how wonderful this event was for my own growing and learning process (1^{st} person).
3^{rd} Person (It/Its)
But then they sent me away, to teach me how to be Sensible,
Logical, Oh Responsible and Practical.
And they showed me a world, where I could be so Dependable,
So Clinical, Oh Intellectual and Cynical.
Roger Hodgson/Supertramp – The Logical Song
First, I want to say that if you think that what I am about to say here is simply dry systems theory – I ask you to think again. Open your heart and mind and let this concept flow through your entire bodymind. We
tend to cherish the I and We in the integral community, sometimes at
the expense of the beauty of the “It”. “It” is not a bad word. “It” itself is beautfiful, good and most of all, True. So lets start here.
One
of the most beautiful words that has ever emerged in the Kosmos has
been raped, battered, and torn now for more than 100 years. It’s a shame, really, because the word itself is a signifier of that which holds the Kosmos together in the first place.
The word is Entropy!
Most people, including many of the world’s most sophisticated and advanced scientists, continue to conflate Entropy with ‘Disorder’ or ‘Chaos’. This has been terribly confusing, and even Ken seems to have inherited this misunderstanding (see the Intro to ATOE). One
golden nugget that I uncovered a few years ago while doing my PhD
research, was stumbling upon the work of Jeffrey Wicken in his book
“Evolution, Thermodynamics, and Information” (1986). In this very sophisticated analysis (albeit a RH/Systems approach), Wicken points out that Entropy is NOT equivalent or synonymous with disorder/chaos. It is simply and more elegantly defined as:
“The relationship between probabilities and possibilities”
I will not go into details on the mathematical aspects; rather, I
simply want to point out something that I believe is very elegant about
this definition, and if we apply some basic integral theory to it, it
might yeild some important insights on where we are as a community.
One question that comes to mind is - where else do we find insight that relates these two words: probabilities and possibilities?
Ahah! Yes, Holonic Tenet # 6:
“The lower sets the possibilities of the higher; the higher sets the probabilities of the lower”
Tenet 6, it seems, is one way of elaborating what Entropy actually is. Einstein once remaked that “politics is for the present, a mathematical formula is eternal”. I
can appreciate the passion this man had for this idea in a way,
especially if we look at the value that some of the most basic and
elegant mathematical formulas have for our understaning of the Kosmos. When we look at Entropy,
its basic formula is precisely one of these eternal gems that Einstein
was referring to (although it was not Einstein who discovered this one,
it was Boltzman). Let’s look at its basic mathematical formulation:
E = -Σ p(i) ln p(i)
Written
out, it says that Entropy (E) is equal to the sum of the products of
all probabilities (p) of the total number of possible events (i). Does this sound confusing? Sure. This is why mathematics is so much more difficult to explain in words than it is equations. Look at it this way – if you plug in the number ‘1’, then E=0. This
is partly because, in probability theory, all probability values in a
set need to add up to the value of ‘1’, meaning, that ‘1’ is the event
that occurs – or, to say it in another way, it captures the full range
of possibilities. If there is only ‘1’ possible pathway for something to happen; its Entropy is ‘0’. When there are more than 1 possible pathways, then Entropy increases (the numeric value starts to climb from 0).
Lets consider 2 possible pathways that a situation might take. For
example, consider the possibility that either your in-laws will visit
you for the holidays (say a high probability of 0.80 or 80%) versus
‘not’ visit you for the holidays (a lower probability value of 0.20 or
20%). When you are thinking about these two possibilities, and their associated probabilities, notice the emotional resonance you feel when contemplating the implications of either happening. If
you do not like your in-laws, you might feel very anxious about the
‘high probability’ that they will visit; or, if you do like them, you
might feel excited about the prospect, and perhaps a little concerned
about the chance that they may not visit and the affect it will have on
how you spend your holidays.
What we often want in such situations is ‘certainty’. You want to know whether they are coming or not. You want a value of ‘1’ or 100%; an Entropy of ‘0’ - the lowest possible Entropy value. Certainty feels good. It relaxes us. When we do not have certainty, we are anxious; doubt begins to flow and a subtle neurosis takes over our being. This is totally an ecological process, see? We face these types of situations absolutely every minute of every day of our lives. It’s all Entropy! Entropy
is not only ‘out there’ – in physical and chemical systems – it is the
very ground of the mystery of this particular Kosmos that I/We created.
To
expand on this, in ANY given system, its emergence may follow some
number of POSSIBLE pathways (this is what the ‘i’ indicates in the
above equation); and each possibility has a corresponding probability (the ‘p(i)’ in the above equation). The ‘ln’ stands for ‘natural log’. The
equation itself is derived from algebraic relations of the numbers of
possible permutations that can happen given the complexity and intial
conditions of a situation. (For the mathematically inclined, there’s a
good description on Wikipedia for quick reference).
With
evolution, emergence and complexity – what it means to say that
‘Entropy increases’ – is simply that the relation between probabilities
and possibilities increases. It does NOT mean that dis-order increases; rather that dis-order/chaos is one possible ‘state’ of conditions that arises out of Entropy. Got it!!? (If not, e-mail me on zaadz and I’ll try to explain it another way).
This
ties in very nicely with Ken’s more recent theory (Excerpts A-G) when
he says that with evolution and increasing complexity, there is a
corresponding ‘deminishing probability space’. The way I
interpet and apply it here is to say that with increasing the
possibilities (i.e. the number of possible (i) events), the associated
values in the probability distribution is deminishing. That is, the values of each p(i) becomes smaller (generally speaking).
For
example, if there are only three possible pathways for a system; and
each are equally probable; then each would have a probability value of
0.33. Let’s then look at a more complex system that has
say 10 possible pathways; one possibility might still have a
probability of 0.33; but then this leaves the value of 0.66 left to be
distributed among the other nine possibilities. Hence,
somewhere in the nine remaining possibilities, there will be
significantly lower probability values (deminishing) in this set (they
can be as tiny as 0.00001, or as large as 0.65 – but some of these
possibilities will have small or low probability values!).
Now, let’s take this back to Tenet # 6. With
emerging and evolving/involving structures and/or levels (including
vMemes, cognitive development, stages of consciousness, etc…), let us
recall that the ‘lower sets the possibilities of the higher’, and that
the higher we go, the more ‘possibilities’ there are. This is not only because each level gives us new possibilities, but the possibilities presented to each level are cumulative among levels. That is, the possibilities on level 1 are added to the possibilities on level 2, and 3 and so on. The probabilities
at each level are the ‘Kosmic Grooves’ that comprise that level; and as
Ken has so elegantly pointed out, with each new emerging level, there
is more ‘wiggle room’ because there are more possibilities or choices
to make.
ENTROPY: It’s such a beautiful, good and truthful concept, huh?
Ok
– so, let’s look at how this might apply to the current situation with
the I-I; and what I want to do here is offer not just suggestions for
the staff of the I-I, but a way of thinking about how we in the broader
Integral Community might think and contemplate our present situation. And
again, I want to in advance be self-critical here – this is mostly just
my opinion, but if you find it insightful, then you can consider it a
little Christmas gift to you.
2^{nd}-Person (We)
Now watch what you say, or they’ll be calling you a Radical,
A Liberal, Oh Fanatical and Criminal.
Won’t you sign up your name?
We’d like to feel your Acceptable,
Respectable, Presentable – A ‘Vegetable’!
Roger Hodgson/Supertramp – The Logical Song
It
is undersood that I-I is intended to be the first truly integral
community; it seeks to establish the first ‘integral grooves’ in the
Kosmos. And at this level (Kosmic address); in our visioning, the ‘possibilities’ are endless/boundless. Yes,
we can have a Multiplex; yes, we can do the Integral Commons; Integral
University; Integral Books; Integralist magazine; AQAL Journal;
Seminars, Workshops, etc.. Yes, these are all ‘possibilities’, huh?
But what are the ‘probabilities’ that any of these will form into solid Kosmic Habits in the short, near or distant future? Kosmic Habits, I hope we have been learning, take an enormous amount of time, effort and energy to lay down. This absolutely has to be especially true at the 2^{nd} Tier level. So, our first motto should be “let’s go easy on ourselves here!”
I would have to agree that much of what the I-I has to do has to operate on an Orange level and higher. But more than that, what about the lower levels – beige, red, amber? What do these levels actually look like in the collective? (LR/LL quadrants?), and in an organization like I-I. If levels are nested, what do we need to do at these levels to support the higher ones? The
higher visionary waves of yellow and teal – as mentioned above – have
more ‘wiggle room’ – but this also means they must have more
reflexivity. And with that – I think it is important to be open to serendipity of the process.
Remember
that where the ‘lower sets the possibilities of the higher’ and that
‘if you destroy a holon on any given level, you destroy all the holons
above it and none of the holons below it’; it seems to me, we have to
constantly manage, maintain, and ‘sustain’ these lower levels in order
to have any groove at all happen on yellow or higher. The reflexivity of yellow and higher can only be sustained and supported by healthy lower levels, yeah?
In
informal discussions many with other integral practitioners, I found
that this seems to be one of the most essential issues that we tend to
struggle with. We think that because we are ‘integral’ – that we are some how floating around in some 2^{nd} Tier space that we’ve completed detached ourselves from the 1^{st} Tier all together.
Remember the song “Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas in the 70’s ?
“Once I rose above the noise and confusion,
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion,
I was soaring ever higher,
But I flew too high”
I think there are many times we really do fly too high – and there’s a potential danger in this. I comes with the risk that we percieve all of the 1^{st} Tier stuff as ‘illusion’ – something that we are detached from, instead of ‘transcending and including’.
Moreover, I doubt there is one single integral person on the planet who functionally operates from a 2^{nd} Tier level 100% of the time. At
best, there might be several among us who are able to sustain it for
several hours a day; - but that is only if and when we have our 1^{st} Tier levels healthy and working smoothly in all quadrants.
Come on folks!! The slogan “Let’s Get Integral” also means “Let’s Get Real”. Brahman IS the World, remember? I’m also willing to bet that many of you are like me – we spend most of our time working on, building, correcting/healing our 1^{st} Tier levels more so than our 2^{nd} Tier ones. And all of it is quite messy.
I
get up on the morning and tend to Beige priorities (using the washroom,
taking a shower, having breakfast); then connecting to those around me
(purple); then waking my own ego-centricity up to face the day (red);
driving to work/tending to my societal responsibilities (amber);
advancing my conbributions to making the world a better place (orange);
broadening my horizons and contributing to the care of people and the
planet (green). Heck, if I don’t do all this stuff every day, I could never get to Yellow. It’s a daily cycle, and it requires a lot of effort.
We might ‘look at’ all these things from a 2^{nd} Tier perspective; but ‘doing them’ requires we do them ‘at’ the levels they are at. It
leads me to think that a truly effective approach in being integral is
similar to a high-wire act – and the rule is: “Don’t Look Down”. The
pole that we are using for balance is our centredness – that delicate
balancing act we must maintain between form and formlessness, between
reality and illusion, and between being and becoming.
If we are constantly looking down at these 1^{st} Tier levels and priorities, we’re not doing it right. We need to look ‘across’ or ‘through’ these levels – in ourselves and others, and the spaces they occupy. This takes effort. It is not easy work. In
my experience with the shadow process so far, I find it uncovers more
red and amber junk than it does higher level capacities in myself. I’ll
leave this speculation to the real psychologists in the community, but
I’m willing to bet that when there is conflict among us –
disagreeements, personality conflicts or what have you – that they come
from these lower levels – particularly Red.
This
doesn’t take away from the fact that perhaps 98% of people never reach
higher than Green on any given day; our task is to do all what everyone
else is doing “and them some”. And what we are trying to do at a Yellow/Turquoise/Teal’ level – is really not yet defined. For
me, in asking whether or not I am integral, or am I ‘being’ integral,
it all comes down to ‘how much time each day am I functionally
operating from an integral plane?’ I’d be interested in hearing how others answer this question.
Getting
back to the organizational theory, if organizations have these levels
in the collective sense, then what do these lower levels look like in
organizations? I don’t know – but it would be useful to have input on this question. One
thing I do think I know comes from some research I did in applying
integral theory to ‘information theory’ or ‘information systems’. Part of the model I used is how information is used in an organizational context (using organizational pyramids). (Anyone interested in this, let me know – I’d be happy to send you the paper). In
looking at information flow – from data to knowledge to meaning/wisdom
– this nested infromation holarchy has corresponding levels in
information systems. A rule of thumb that I arrived at was ‘design from the top-down, but build from the bottom-up’.
So yes, let us expect all these things to happen. They NEED to happen. But
let us also be cognizant of what this actually takes. All this to say
that I’m actually quite grateful and very hopeful for I-I as it
navigates its way through this period. With our continued effort and support – as subscribers and practioners – we WILL lay down this next Kosmic Groove. But it will take EFFORT, PATIENCE, SPACE and TIME. Let us be patient with Ken and our friends at I-I, with ourselves, and with each other.
1^{st} Person (I)
There are times, when all the worlds' asleep,
The questions run so deep,
For such a simple man.
Won’t you please,
please tell me what we’ve learned?
I know it sounds obsurd,
But please tell me Who I Am?
Roger Hodgson/Supertramp – The Logical Song
What
I really appreciate from all this, especially the increase in the
transparency, is that I personally can now see that the people working
at I-I, and ye in the community, are all struggling with the very same challenges as I am personally. It
is so great to see that we have so many incredible human beings working
on this, and being very open and honest about their experiences.
It
is evidence for integral theory itself to see the various responses
coming from the different levels and lines within ourselves. I
felt myself agreeing with almost everything people have been saying
(kinda like Woody on Cheers!); indicating to me that – regardless of
the point of view or arguments being made – there is resonance! Good or Bad, all things unfolding are unfolding as they should, and to paraphrase Ken, all are ‘equally radiance of the Divine’.
I feel much closer to the community now that this messiness is out in the open. It means we can fix it within the community, and also within ourselves. No need for little ol’ “me” to be hiding these things within myself either. I’ve suffered by own dysphoric bouts and doubts about my integral capacities, and have had many a day when the kinds of battles like the one between Ken and Steve were battling it out in my own mind.
It’s
so good to know that I-I people do not ‘walk on water’ – nor are they
trying to; and this shouldn’t be one of our expectations. Moreover,
red, amber, orange, green are not just ‘out there’ in the ‘other 98%’ -
they are ‘in here’ – nested deeply within us and they need nurturing
and compassion.
For
me, if I found out about a fallout at the senior level in other
companies or organizations that I subscribe to (phone, cable,
professional associations); would that bother me? Would it cause me to cancel my subscription? God, No! The
I-I is a very different kind of community for us – and we can and
should expect some difficult growing pains and rough bumps on the road. All in all, I still think its going to be an exciting journey. It HAS to happen! And I’m looking forward to whatever it brings.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
In Spirit,
Brian.
BE