Guest Blog: Integral Connectedness (by Steve Self)
January 02, 2008 19:52

(The following is being posted according to Ken's generous offer. The posting of a submission doesn't imply that Ken or the editors of this site necessarily agree with any or all of it. Thanks, -Eds)


Integral Connectedness
by Steve Self

One of the pitfalls that confounds many of us as we navigate the transition from a Sensitive-Pluralistic level of adult development (Green altitude) into Integral (Teal altitude) is an over-emphasis on differentiation. Growing out of Green, we transcend the often excessive postmodern relativism, where all perspectives are heaped together with equal value in a heart-felt, but naive embrace, and we find the developmental stages revealed at Integral refreshing and insightful. In our enthusiasm for this newfound map, we can get swept into separating perspectives, dividing up views into developmental layers, categorizing, generalizing, and fragmenting human beingness. We can narrow our focus to only the differences between us and inadvertently lose that which unifies, that which connect us all.

This focus on differentiation almost always annoys and provokes Green. And perhaps rightfully so. The sensitivity for connection and unity-in-diversity that is learned at the Green stage of development is a profound capacity, and for some, fundamental in their self-identity. When someone at Integral-Teal begins talking about stages of development and stratifying people’s worldviews, this feels like hierarchical violence to sensitive, early-holistic Green.

Furthermore, Integral-Teal can be quite zealous in its rebellion against Green, wielding the AQAL map sharply, cutting up that which was whole. Sensing this, Green backs away from Integral, like stumbling backward from a sword slashing demon. Sure it’s projection on Green’s part, but we can also be more skillful as we talk integral. Furthermore, as we live at Teal and then Turquoise, we experience new depths of connection that are more profound and far more inclusive than what was known at Sensitive Green. In fact, the very scale that seems to fragment and divide, once digested, is a key that unlocks a more authentic connectedness. In Green, we are championing sensitive, pluralistic values, yet at the same time trying to change other culture’s not-so-sensitive ways. Wanting to give everyone a voice, yet wanting them to see and speak from an egalitarian, consensus building view. Green’s hubris (and all first 6 stages of development) is thinking they know better than all other perspectives: a uni-perspectival myopia. Green’s covert judgement about other’s inferior values fundamentally thwarts Green’s ability to connect to anyone other than Green.

At Integral-Teal we become fully aperspectival. We no longer grip our perspective so tightly. We can meet others at whatever level of development they are expressing, be it ego-centric, ethnocentric, or worldcentric. We can listen for healthy expression at any level and authentically connect there. At Integral Teal our compassion reaches many more than at Green. We no longer have a pluralistic values filter governing what we are willing to approve of and connect with. In this way, embodying the AQAL map and its stage conception opens up deeper and wider connections.

The other distinctions of the Integral AQAL map (quadrants, lines, types, stages & states) radically enrich our view of human being-in-the-world. The more we understand, the more we can connect, once we have embodied the distinctions. Just knowing the Integral jargon, the map, the categories, is only a naive beginning. At this point the intellectual knowledge can isolate and separate, especially in Green’s view. The evolving adult student of Integral struggles with the transcend and include process and must engage their inner shadow, the damage their self-system took on during development, the maladaptive beliefs and unexamined attitudes they have accumulated. Untying these knots of human trauma, miss- learning and personal stupidity from an integral perspective opens a deep relaxation in the bodymind and a consequent loosening of the fundamental contraction into separation. With this transformative leap to Integral, we become aware of amazing new levels of connection with all sentient beings.

This new level of openness and connection in Integral (and beyond) also opens us to Universal Mind even more, as we no longer grasp quite so tightly to our small ego’s perspective. One of the treasures of realized aperspectival development is the correlative acceleration of spiritual evolution. More and more of our sense of self is now centered in the transcendent, who we know ourselves to be is the absolutely clear and radiant connection fundamental in all beings. And as we practice resting in this state of awareness, the oneness of all that is becomes our experience, not a belief or a slogan, but a clear and stable perception.

Connection simply is. It is not something we do or think about. It is the air we breath. Experiencing this state of awareness has been available to men and women at all levels of development throughout history. Sages and saints have written about it. Their experience, completely authentic; their description, stage specific. Any recounting of an experience is interpretation, and all interpretations are governed by our developmental and cultural perspective. The more sophisticated the perspective (higher stages of development), the more nuanced, accurate and powerful the transmission.

But in our day to day life, as we deepen our integral awareness, increasing compassion dictates our being mindful of our already-always connection. We see when we contract from excessively pluralistic Green, and relax back into connection. And this is not some sappy, indulgent, boundry-less fantasy embrace. We can remain open and connected, even while moving with angry egocentric Red. Our awareness-in-connection, in fact, allows us to know and move and behave appropriate to the situation with much more skill and ease than any boundary we create while contracting and separating ourselves. Resting in the connection, with relaxed awareness, we can respond instantly and we do not add fuel to any conflict; we are, simply, a catalyst for harmony.


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