M. ALAN KAZLEV
Authors note: this essay builds upon and incorporates an earlier blog post on Integral Praxis integralpraxis.blogspot.com/ . In the process of writing it, I revised and refined my original position considerably, so that in places it is almost unrecognisable. I would like to thank everyone who commented on these posts and added their own feedback and critiques; I have tried to incorporate this into the current thesis. To help with the flow of text, I have avoided the use of footnotes in this essay. There is also a pragmatic reason for this: in order to cite everything the essay would need many pages of footnotes! Instead, important books have been referenced in the text itself. I have also included various on-line urls, but again, not a comprehensive selection. This essay updates and complements my earlier essays on Integral World
In this essay, I re-define "Integral" in a way that includes all current definitions. This involves five definitions: Religious, Theoretical, Practical, Enlightened, and Divinised. Each of these definitions is defined. Of these, the first is considered pseudo-integral, the others authentically integral. This gives us a broader framework that can accommodate, but also go beyond, the various more limited definitions. A lot of difficulty also arises from confusing the Integral Movement as defined by Ken Wilber and Don Beck with Integral Yoga as defined by Sri Aurobindo. I show that these are very different; they are radically different teachings based on totally different states of consciousness.. A sequence of stages of the evolution of consciousness and society is also presented, which includes stages beyond the current Post-Materialism and Integral stages consciousness, is suggested, and the first of these, called Post-Integral, is briefly described.
2. THE PROBLEM
Currently, especially in America and on the Internet, the word Integral, and the Integral Movement, is defined almost totally within the context of the philosophy and personality cult of the American autodidact Ken Wilber. This leads to the following problems:
- First, the choice between
(a) the intellectual and ideological conservatism of yet another New Age/New Paradigm religion, which is strongly defined by Wilberian or Post-Wilberian themes, or
(b) an amorphous buzz-word that means nothing, but is popular in Integral forums such as the Integral Naked website and What is Enlightenment? magazine.
- Second, as a result of the above, an intellectual, practical, and spiritual narrowing, leading to a trivialisation, and misrepresentation of earlier definitions – e.g. those of Sri Aurobindo, Jean Gebser – and a denigration of contemporary rival definitions – e.g. Paul Ray, Ervin László.
- Thirdly, a lack of lacking in spiritual insight (gnosis), due to overintellectual approach, kowtowing to modernity, and consequent denial or explaining away of realities and experiences Fourth, a lack of true understanding or appreciation of Bhakti (Surrender to the Supreme), although this is the central element of almost every authentic spiritual path.
- Finally, a totally non-integral approach to spirituality, based on a synthesis of Californian feel-good holistic lifestyle and a Westernised, secularised, non-threatening (i.e. non-metaphysical) and intellectualised approach to Buddhism.
However, the original definition of the word was not by Ken Wilber, but by Sri Aurobindo, whose teachings were in almost every respect the opposite of Wilber's. The only things they had in common was (b) the synthesis of different perspectives (such as spirituality and materialism, and the meeting of East and West), (c) an evolutionary worldview, and (d) use of the word "Integral" to define their respective teachings.