Friday, January 30, 2009

Raising kids and training doctors

When you raise a child, the subject of religion comes up pretty early usually. For most people steeped in a nice Mythic tradition, this is not a hard discussion. They tell the kid how things are, and the kid believes. Hopefully, later in life, the kid figures out more stuff on its own too.

How would you raise a child to adopt an Integral approach to spirituality though?

Can you imagine talking to a three-year old about Oneness and ego and living in the Now? Not gonna happen...

The interesting thing about the spiritual line of development is that EVERY human being must pass through each stage. We are all born at Stage 1, an infant that does not know the difference between itself and its surroundings. From there, we ALL go through a period where the world is magical to us. Many of us then get into the doctrine and mythology of it afterwards, as we proceed to the Mythic stage. Hopefully, people then go on from there to Rational, Pluralistic, Integral, etc.

When raising a child, each approach and each stage must be taught at the appropriate time. Even into adulthood you proceed through stages, if you do not get stuck at one of them. It is a lot like the regular development of a human from infancy, to childhood, to adolescence, to young adulthood, to adulthood, to middle age, to old age.

On the other hand, training people to be doctors is not like that.

Can you imagine going in on your first day of medical school and learning about bloodletting, leaches, and the Four Humors? Then as you proceed through your four years you eventually get to complex clinical diagnosis and treatment? Not gonna happen...

In this line of development you do not need to start out learning what doctors learned 1000 years ago. In fact, doing that can make for a really crappy doctor!

Most lines of development that deal with information seem to be like this. It helps to get information that is useful to your population during your current time period. Religious and spiritual information is not like this for some reason.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Putting some of this together

Hopefully, I have simplified some of this complicated material to the point where someone can see that it is extremely useful. Believe me, when I read all of this for myself, which I still am in the process of doing, it is not so simple to comprehend. It takes a bit of time to digest.

I have talked about States and Stages according to the Integral take on them. Now I want to convey how States and Stages go together according to this scheme.

All States are accessible in each Stage. In English, that means if you are a bible beater stuck at the Mythic stage, you can still be awake, dreaming, having a dreamless sleep, or even a non-dual experience of Oneness. Those things correspond to the gross, subtle, causal, and non-dual States. You could also have other states as a bible beater, such as meditation, drunkenness, and an LSD trip.

It really does not matter what Stage you are at. You can always access these States, though some are easier than others. A tribal commoner in the back jungles of Africa that worships the Earth can have an experience of peace and Oneness every bit as much as the Zen Buddhist monk sitting in a monastery in sunny California. The differences between these two are how they would [i]interpret[/i] the experience, based on their cultural and religious upbringings, as well as the perspective they would take on the experience. The tribesman would talk about how he merged with his deity and walked together with him everywhere, whereas the monk would talk about a complete cessation of experience dissolving into an inexplicable nothingness.

So, if there are at least seven Stages and there are at least 4 States at every stage, that means you could have at least 28 different kinds of spiritual experiences. Youch!

This layout is called the "Wilber-Combs Matrix", which shows how at each Stage you can have four States.

A hat tip goes to Kelly Sosan Bearer at her blog for the image.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On a political note...

I thought I would say something briefly now that President Obama has been sworn in.

As Robb Smith over at Integral Life has said, I sincerely hope that Obama is something of an enigma in politics: an evolved person. So far in his transition, there are signs that he is. He seems to have an ability to connect with all sides of the spectrum, not by surrendering, or by completely accepting their garbage, but by including. He is able to disagree wholeheartedly with portions of the beliefs espoused by various political and social entities, yet he does not hate them, or even disdain them strongly. Instead, he stresses the commonalities and areas where the real truth seems to lie, and tries to bring those relationships forward in a spirit of "mutual interest and respect."

That's a pretty important characteristic of an Integral person, and an Integral network of societies. Every race, religion, tribe, family, individual has issues. Every one of them has portions of their belief systems and practices that are not conducive to development. However, every one of them ALSO has unique and important pieces of information that ARE essential for development. The trick is to sort out the useful from the useless.

In the world today, there are a lot of Stage 3 (Mythic) societies and people that conflict with Stage 4 (Rational) people. What we are seeing here is a world where Religion is stuck at Mythic and Science is stuck at Rational. It's a nightmare situation, because Science holds back Religion and keeps it down, preventing it from evolving to the point where tolerance develops. Conversely, Religion holds Science back by constantly keeping it on the defensive, sapping all the energy it would normally take to move itself forward.

Islamic extremism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish nationalism... all of these are examples of Mythic societies that are stuck. Multiculturalism, relativism, extreme "scientism"... these are examples of entities stuck in the Rational. The point is to move forward to Pluralistic, Integral, and stages beyond.

I hope Obama can contribute to that by helping to thread everyone together. He won't change billions of people and suddenly make them Integral-level beings. His task is hard: creating harmony between a huge spread of Stages, but I pray that he succeeds somehow, whatever success is in this case.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Anyway... now for the last quadrant

Hello, folks. Sorry about the long delay between posts. Since the New Year hit, I've been busy with a new baby and starting proceedings for moving into a new place. That leaves little time to write.

I'd like to pick up again on the discussion on quadrants. Remember, the Upper Left quadrant is the "I" quadrant,dealing with personal internal development, and it represents all viewpoints of the world that stem from that perspective. The Upper Right quadrant is the "It" quadrant, dealing with the forms that "I" takes. It is the realm of hard core physics and science. Then we had the Lower Left quadrant which is the "We" quadrant. It represents the internal part of the collective. Whenever you are taking the perspective of "I, you and them" or "all of us", you are looking at things from this quadrant.

The last quadrant, the Lower Right, is the form that the "We" takes. In other words, this quadrant represents all societal constructions: houses, villages, towns, cities, national infrastructures, space stations, etc. It also encompasses whatever forms institutions take.

If you are the kind of person that believes that all reality can be represented by societal constructions, and that everything we experience is nothing but man-made institutions and objects, then you are looking at the world from this standpoint.

Now that we understand all four quadrants, it is important to reiterate some things. ALL of these quadrants make up reality. ALL philosophies, both personal and formal, fall into one or more of these areas, and some concentrate wholly on certain quadrants more than others. The point of Integral thinking is to realize that not focusing on all 4 quadrants makes for an incomplete accounting of Reality.

The other great thing about this is that it means that EVERY viewpoint is valid from a certain point of view, i.e. from a certain quadrant. Viewpoints are not often "wrong". They are however very often limited, primitive, and incomplete.

How enlightened are you? A test!

This comes from Dan Millman's latest news letter... a classic.

"How Enlightened Are You? A Test:

Well. . .

If you can live without caffeine or nicotine;

If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains;

If you can resist complaining;

If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you any time;

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment;

If you can ignore friends' limited educations and never correct them;

If you can treat the rich and poor alike;

If you can face the world without lies or deceit;

If you can conquer tension without medical help;

If you can relax without liquor;

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs;

If you can have no prejudice against creed, color, religion, gender, sexual preference, or politics —

— then you have almost reached the same level of spiritual development as your dog."

hahahah!!! I love it.