By Giorgio Piacenza Cabrera
Accompanying my undertaking of Integral Theory courses online through JFK University, I experienced insights, questions, and variations on the usual themes touched in those courses. If you already are conversant with Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory, you might find this collection of reflections intellectually provocative and productive.
On An Unrecognized But Crucial “SHADOW”…
For spiritual transformation, for becoming more Integral, its (validly I think) in vogue to work with our shadows, with repressed aspects from previous stages of individual development. Yet, by observing the modern and post modern biases within many in the Integral Community, I’ve come to see that there’s something wrong and forgotten in the theory of psychological developmentalism normally espoused. I call it the “Inter Stage ‘Content’ Shadow” (or ISCS for short).
Let’s see…It’s easier, less challenging to move from stage to stage holding on to 3rd person concepts than in 1st person experiential content. The content I’m writing about is also cultural-stage related. This content represents meaningful 1st person experiences and discoveries typical of each stage and, when moving to a higher or more inclusive stage, is quite often repressed, thus becoming a shadow, an “inter-stage content shadow.”
The negative or freedom limiting side of the conceptual framework of a previous stage is overcome and transcended in the higher, more conceptually inclusive stage but the specifics of the experiential content is quite often more easily dealt with by repressing it. The healthy transcendence and incorporation/inclusion of is easier first with 3rd person, more impersonal “it” concepts. Content is often included as a repressed shadow, a taboo, a no-no. In fact, this is why “psychical research” and related parapsychological, subtle. Alternative phenomena are suppressed within the scientific and post modern stages.
Being a participant in certain modern-post modern cultures that still hold on to pre modern traditions may assist (even conceptual and ethical Second Tier individuals) in including some of the actual experiential contents of pre-modern stages. An Integral individual that has a pervasive bias or distaste for the value of genuine spirit communication (characteristic of pre modern stages) may not be sufficiently Integral in 1st person terms. An individual that characterizes all miraculous phenomena of the Mythic-Amber stage as only serving a useful social function is not choosing to be as impartial and objective as a modern thinker ought to be because there simply are occasional phenomena that a prosaic scientific explanation cannot deal with. These individuals hold shadows and as long as they do, their Integral life projects will be incomplete (and maybe even dangerously so). By pretending to be the forefront guiding force in cultural stage development they could also perpetuate a form of forgetfulness of all of the creative manifestations of Spirit, a forgetfulness as evil in the long run as the political and human abuses committed by the Churches in times past. For instance we know that Amber churches burned spirit communicants at the stake.
Nonetheless, in spite of the errors, abuse, mistakes and other blindness of the Amber cultural stage, is there room in Integral Theory to recognize Second or Third Tier knowledge encoded by the highest intuitive Intellect in First Tier Myths and dogmas?
The same goes for Post Modern thinkers who –as Wilber rightly points out- are engaged in a reductionist, monological, flattening war against the ideals of order and wisdom of the Orange-Modern and the Amber stages. Maybe this kind of inter stage shadow, having lived so long, having been revived for so long under different kinds of prejudices, is a really serious problem that humanity needs to become aware of heal and transcend if there’s ever any hope of fulfilling the most Integral and loving human potential in the –hopefully- emerging “Integral Age” or thereafter.
As individuals entering the Integral Stage of understanding it would be indolence to pick and choose what we want to include of the experiential wisdom disclosed in previous stages, if we deny any genuine, firsthand experience of the specific contents. To be a truly healing force in the world (and also in the long run) we need to put an end to the bias against first person spiritual experiences of pre modern stages. We shouldn’t limit the Integral Vision to become accepted as soon as possible into the academic, political, scientific world by perpetuating a denial of vital aspects of the Cosmos’ ontological Exterior and Interior meaningful expressions that aren’t not just (as simplistically said) eternally pre-given ‘out there’ but in actual dynamic evolutionary and involutionary relation even with what Post Metaphysical Pluralism considers as ‘creating grooves’ in the emerging, evolutionary process (as with partialness seen from the bottom up and from the exteriors-inwards). The whole situation is far more complex and beautiful and vital for all sentients than the pathetic over simplifications orthodoxically generated in regards to the significant inter-realm relations that our elegant (and otherwise truly promising) “Integral Theory” accommodated in its structure.
On The “Three Eyes” of Knowledge…
Can the "Three Eyes of knowledge" be used to disclose knowledge objectively manifesting in the gross and subtle worlds? Can we use the “cogitatio Eye” (the eye of the flesh) in an expanded sense (not just as an “eye” of the physical body but as an “eye” of the exterior, objective quadratic aspects of the Subtle Body, its exterior envelope-body-vehicle of energy)? Can we use the Subtle Cogitatio Eye for disclosing the objective aspects of the Subtle Realm (even with Integral Methodological Pluralism)?
Quite often it seems that the Subtle World has been diminished or reduced to its interior emotional aspects in the general discussions. There’s a lot of truth to it since through feeling we also sense subtle energies (and proportionally more because a higher ontological realm possesses a greater degree of Interiority than Exteriority than a Gross Realm which is further “away” from the Source in a relative, apparent and contingent sense). Nevertheless, there’s also an objective (albeit more adaptable or less strictly patterned) exteriority in the Subtle ontological realm and this needs to be integrally acknowledged and even scientifically explored.
Also, since the “Meditatio” Eye (the Eye of the Mind) can be used to disclose the mathematical and lawful patterns behind the Gross Realm it can be used to better understand in an intelligible way the Subtle Realm and the Causal Realm. Then again, the “Contemplatio” Eye (the Eye of Contemplation) can be used to experience in a spiritual way the beauty and sweetness, the unity, love and wonder immanent and transcending each Realm.
As INTEGRAL experiencers, intellects; as individuals with (several) bodies, (several levels of) minds and one spirit, we must incorporate San Bonaventure’s traditional view into a more inclusive and higher integrated view to embrace all the levels of reality open to the possibility of functioning with our “three eyes” throughout the Kosmic spectrum. Not doing so is remaining in the shadows in spite of our intellectual and technological achievements and, in spite of the great theoretical and practical promises of Integral Theory as it stands now.
On Wilber 5...
Is “Wilber 5” a stage previous to a higher integration that once again will include more of the essential teachings behind the almost abandoned project of remembering the forgotten knowledge and bringing the Sophia Perennis/Perennial Philosophy back to humanity? Do certain (now “post Metaphysically” disdained) realities exist in actuality at their own ontological level but only potentially for us until we disclose them, while the way we disclose them and interpret them at a specific altitude then becomes a unique co-creation (perhaps a more Integral middle ground position between the suppositions behind a strict Post Metaphysical Myth of the Given Constructivism and absolutely independent pre-existence)? Again, what is not disclosed interpretatively under human methodology and within an altitude does it exist in actuality at its own level but only in a potential way for us?
Moreover, in a holonic Kosmos in which the polarity of part and whole interplays, we can deduce that other ontological levels are required if there are Interior-Exterior-Single and Plural aspects in every occasion or manifestation. Whether they are understood as static or dynamic, as 'eternally pre-given' or as evolving is another matter. There's also potentiality and explicitness between the interior and the exterior the single and the plural, thus involution and evolution can interplay.
What does exist if it is not disclosed by human methodology? How can Wilber 5 and AQAL integrate the experimentally and methodologically and collectively shared disclosures that –for instance- genuine Instrumental Transcommunication seems to elicit in relation to specifics about life conditions in the sub divisions within the Subtle Realm ?
I think that Ken Wilber has not been careful enough in his –otherwise- wholesome writings in relation to the highly important, emotionally charged, feared, avoided fanaticized-over and unavoidably integrally fundamental concept of “Metaphysics.” There’s a confusion between "Metaphysics" (as Aristotle's writings placed AFTER his writings on physics), "Metaphysics" (as related to experientiable contingent realms of existence that transcend the physical realm), “Metaphysics” as wild speculation about otherworldly things, and "Metaphysics" (as the study of ultimate rational causes and the study of the essential nature of things).
On States As Vehicles for Actualization…
Perhaps States also bring with them the possibility of knowing the wider relationships that exist between realms and can assist us in using the “three eyes of knowledge” more completely in order to disclose and simultaneously actualize into our concrete Gross experience and exterior patterns the Interior reality of more outwardly expressive, inclusive or subtler realms (regardless of the realm where our particular exterior or objective body is operating). States may also be Integral to the way in which the degree of ontological reality and the degree of externalized structures in these realities relate to each other across levels, or, in other words, how the fabric of creation is woven together… but this is a serious matter for further discussion later on.
On A New Kind of Lattice…
With a similar pattern as the one in the Wilber-Combs Lattice, I’m proposing a “lattice” for knowledge:
The 3 “eyes of knowledge” X 3 basic expressions of reality (Gross, Subtle and Causal) = 9 basic ways of acquiring knowledge about reality. This means that the “cogito” or the eye once limited to “the flesh” could be used for Gross exteriority, Subtle Exteriority and Causal Exteriority. This also means that the “meditatio” or “eye of the mind” could be used for understanding the information patterns associated with the Gross, the Subtle and the Causal. Finally, the “contemplatio” or “eye of Spirit” could be used to experience in first person the immanence of Spirit in the Gross (for instance as in nature mysticism), the Subtle and the Causal. Then, a complete non-dual integration in understanding would be possible by experiencing all “eyes” as elements of one Spirit, our highest Self that would simultaneously transcend every possible object of knowledge beyond the Causally-defined, Subtly-defined and Grossly-defined parameters of contingency.