Tim Black on Integral Naked - Indigenous Cultures in the Modern World
December 31, 2007 19:55

Tim Black - Indigenous Cultures in the Modern World. Part 1. Is Integral Theory Another Expression of Colonialism?

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A published author in the areas of trauma, group counseling, and applied Integral theory in counseling ethics engages Ken Wilber on why it's so difficult to find Integrally-minded individuals in the indigenous peoples of his native British Columbia--an issue experienced globally, but expressed here as deep interest and care for those living in a modern Canada....


Tim Black has a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of British Columbia, and has been involved in Integral Institute's Integral Psychotherapy Center since 2004.  Tim's most recent written contribution, an article examining the qualitative/quantitative debate in the social sciences, will appear in an upcoming issue of AQAL Journal.


Over the last two years and as a regular faculty member at the University of Victoria, Tim has been part of an advisory group involved in an innovative and collaborative project to create a graduate-level Aboriginal counseling program founded on Aboriginal ways of knowing, and on Aboriginal pedagogy and with an appreciation of the undeniable impact of colonialization on the First Nations of the province of British Columbia and Canada as a whole.  What he's taken on personally is the task of bringing an Integral Approach to this socially-significant exploration.

"First Nations" is a Canadian term of ethnicity which refers to the indigenous, Aboriginal peoples of what is now Canada.  Extremely conscious of being an "outsider" to First Nations' culture, Tim, a white Western male, wanted to learn as much as he could directly from First Nations individuals as possible.  He has learned an enormous amount from the contemporary generations of First Nations peoples, and yet he has yet to find a First Nations individual who could converse in an Integral fashion.  The entire reason for this conversation between Tim and Ken revolves around a very simple question: "Why can't I find an Integral First Nations person to talk to?"

Needless to say, this is a very, very sensitive issue.  All of North America has been historically subject to the forces of European colonialization, at times extremely destructive and traumatizing, and those influences of course continue, and dominate, to this day.  So how is one to proceed?  Even the thought of applying an Integral Approach to the state of indigenous cultures in Canada (or anywhere else) could be considered an expression of just more colonialistic impulses—but this raises an even more delicate issue. 

As Ken relates, research has consistently shown that individuals cross-culturally develop through the same basic deep structures of human consciousness, whether in a modern society or an aboriginal one, with wildly different surface structures coloring the expression of the same basic impulse.  The reason these deep structures appear to arise universally is because each new level of development is simply the ability to take more perspectives on any given occasion (from egocentric-I, to ethnocentric-us, to worldcentric-all of us, to Kosmocentric-all sentient beings).  It's actually very simple: how many other perspectives does one take into account when making any kind of a decision?  Just one's own?  All the people in one's own tribe?  All of the tribes in one's immediate vicinity?  An entire nation of tribes?  All the tribes in the world?  Think of the word "tribe" as representing any set of attributes that separates one group of people from another, because this growth-scale applies to all of us.  How many tribes do you recognize, respect, and take into account in your day-to-day life?          

But mere recognition and respect is not enough.  The pluralistic (postmodern, green) level of development excels in doing just that, by making all cultural modes of existence fundamentally equal.  This is a truly noble impulse, but it misses the fact that different cultural modes, and the individuals within those cultures, exist at different levels of development depending on the number of perspectives held in mind while deciding on a course of action.  An Integral Approach, and an Integral level of development, consciously holds this truth in mind, which is an extraordinary resource when confronting real-world issues. 

This is a conversation deeply relevant to our modern day and age, where the clash of pre-modern, modern, and post-modern ways of being can be heard on every continent of our shared blue-green orb called Earth….

(If you happen to be of First Nations ethnicity and are passionate about an Integral Approach—or if you are doing similar work as Tim regarding Aboriginal cultures—Tim would love to hear from you.  If interested, please send an email to Member Services, and we'll be sure he gets your message.)


"None of the indigenous tribes were multicultural. Their value structure was bound to one particular tribe. Other tribes, if they were even bumped into, meant either warfare or slavery...." 


(Click here for full dialogue.)


Previously on Integral Naked:

James Turner - The Integral-Political Imperative
Sally Kempton - Designer Spirituality, or Discipline Disaster?
Ken Wilber - The Origins of the Integral Perspective
Sally Kempton - From Bohemian Rebel to Integral Swami
Joe Perez - The Power of Integral Reconciliation
Alanis Morissette - Healing the Ruptures
Sally Kempton - Seeing Beyond the Mythic God
Joe Perez: Soulfully Gay - Out of the Closet, Into an Integral Embrace
Dan Millman: The Peaceful Warrior's Way - The Highest Teaching
Alex Grey: Integral Art - Anchoring the Seed of Liberation
Alanis Morissette: From Jagged Little Pill to Flavors of Entanglement
Sharon Stone: Like a Fine Diamond....
Dan Millman: The Peaceful Warrior’s Way - “This Is How to Do It”
Alex Grey: Integral Art - When Psychedelics Reveal the Spirit Within
Deepak Chopra: Buddha - A Story of Enlightenment
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