Tim Black on Integral Naked - Where Worlds Collide
March 03, 2008 17:16

Indigenous Cultures in the Modern World. Part 2. Where Worlds Collide.


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....

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WhoTim 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.

Summary: One of the most agonizing—and seemingly intractable—problems facing numerous modern nations is their relationship with their indigenous populations.  Australia, South Africa, the United States, and Canada, among many others, have been handed this challenge—often with heartbreaking results.  In some ways, the collision that occurred as the first Europeans set foot on the Americas is still playing out today on American reservations and in American inner city slums.  To paraphrase Einstein, the problems created at one level must be resolved by solutions devised from the next; with that in mind, what insights might integral have to offer?

The evidence of the problem, as Tim Black describes it, is abundantly clear.  Elders among the tribes of British Columbia are pleading for a return to the traditional practices and values; but young people are too busy surfing the Internet or watching MTV to pay much attention. That toothpaste, Ken Wilber says, is not going back in the tube. 

Unfortunately, the cure, as offered from the green/pluralistic altitude, is as bad as the sickness!  Green is quite literally at war with orange/rational (as Ken points out, the grievance is actually, more often than not, with amber/mythic).  In a classic pre-trans fallacy, anything non-orange is considered good; anything orange is not.  The Western Enlightenment—which abolished slavery and gave women the right to vote—is despised.  And everything pre-orange (i.e. premodern), is mandated to stay in place. The performative contradiction (“all statements are relative, except, umm, this one…”) shows up everywhere.  As Ken points out, this is about the most patronizing approach one could possibly take. 

From an integral point of view, it is incredibly instructive to look back at how these problems emerged in the first place.  European tribes formed nation-states, garnering technology to the point that they landed on American shores, for the sake of God, gold, and glory, gunpowder in hand.  The indigenous populations of the Americas were on the same developmental path—as Ken points out, the Iroquois tribe had begun to form a nation of tribes, complete with a constitution.  That another, slightly more advanced worldview was imposed upon them is a case of good news and bad news.  The good news: the new worldspace was, in fact, somewhat more expansive.  The bad news:  indigenous cultures were never allowed to make this leap on their own, in a way that honored their journey.

Some of the most powerful insights of Ken’s AQAL (“All Quadrants, All Levels”) approach are seen in the relationships between the quadrants.  The Lower-Right Quadrant is the single largest determinant of Upper-Left average mode of consciousness.  At this point, the “bar” in the lower right quadrant is informational—perhaps two full stages above the aboriginal worldspace.  To deny anyone the benefits of these advances would hardly be of service.  The challenge is how to incorporate them in the unique journey indigenous people find themselves on.

The rear-view mirror offers some insight into how to skillfully move forward.  Keeping in mind that individuals and societies move through a series of developmental altitudes—offering increasingly expansive perspectives—and states—extending wakefulness into deeper states of consciousness (gross to subtle to causal to nondual), this universal human journey, as well as its particular starting point, must be honored.  As mentioned, indigenous cultures were never given the chance to continue on the trajectory they held prior to the influx of European structures.  They are essentially held in place at a red/magic to amber/mythic altitude, and at a subtle spirituality.  These cultures will be honored not keeping them in place, but by allowing them to identify elements in their red and amber structures from which their orange structure can be built.  Their spirituality will be honored by allowing them to build on the shamanic tradition, extending its reach from the subtle into the causal.

Integral aims to synthesize all of the world’s perspectives—premodern, modern, and postmodern—as well as to heal the agonizing wounds that exist between these major cultural blocks, wounds that cut all the way to the deepest heart of the human condition. This discussion is a wonderful example of how this synthesis is beginning to take place in the real world, and we are extremely excited to have you join us in this important and provocative discussion!


"You can't take back the technology, you can't take back the internet—the lower-right quadrant has moved to a place where it's now set the new bar. And if we aren't at least meeting at that bar, then people get left behind."

Click here for full dialogue!



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