The Integral Movement fascinates me. At its most basic level, Ken Wilber’s work offers any of us on the path a map that helps us to look at our own spiritual development and integrates it with everything else in an evolving world. Hence, “Integral.”
At its best, Integral clarifies our position in the relative realm when we begin to recognize the “positionlessness” we occupy in relation to the Absolute. It gives structure to our structurelessness, form to our Emptiness. The potential for helping the world become the change we see in ourselves presents itself throughout the Integral Movement. But there’s another side to this.
At its worst, Integral falls prey to its subscribers’ lack of balance. Many well-meaning Integralists are out of balance themselves, taking shortcuts as they ascend developmental heights. As I’ve seen too many times, this results in activists that diminish their effectiveness by clinging to their causes. Or, just as bad, they become “in-activists” (play the video), unwilling to meet the needs of a rising tide of global, environmental, political and deeply personal demands. In either case, we can find limited egos that see themselves as expansive expressions of enlightenment.
Between these two extremes, however, there is reason for hope. Terry Patton and Marco V. Morellihave offered a manifesto that, as long as it’s not clung to, may offer some guidance to those in the movement as well as those looking to affect change. The central point of the debate surrounding the Integral’s current state of affairs reads:
On the one hand, we don’t feel comfortable identifying with or investing our energy into the kinds of activism often associated with progressives, environmentalists, and other left-leaning groups (much less right-wing groups like the Tea Party). We find them too ideological, too rigid, and not dynamic, innovative or creative enough. Culturally, they appear too polarized, often unwilling or unable to respect opposing points of view. Though many of us sympathize with the progressive agenda, we simply don’t feel that the cause reflects our spirit and understanding of things. Thus we label these movements as “green,” “first tier,” or “postmodern” in a pejorative sense.
On the other hand, integral consciousness hasn’t yet generated a coherent cultural movement that could become its own force for socio-political change. In fact, its early expressions almost seem to deemphasize the importance or urgency of social activism. Instead, it has tended to prioritize the evolution of the self. Moreover, integral culture (especially in its more awkward attempts at marketing) often blurs across a line of credibility, and risks becoming a sub-section of the new-age, new-thought movement.
via Occupy Integral!.
In order for Integral to avoid becoming an irrelevant off-shoot of any one of the many trends and movements, it needs to consider looking at itself through its own lens. Carefully, I would argue. Doing so, as Patton and Morelli suggest, helps us occupy ourselves as well as the Occupy meme in deeply conscious ways. Clinging to the Occupy Integral idea, and the hopes and dreams that surround its application, will only serve to minimize its impact and its usefulness in these critical years ahead of us.