I am not going to apologize for taking a strong interest in something that most people would regard as an esoteric subject matter: Integral Philosophy, and the worldview or “way of being in the world” that it supports. I believe that building this philosophy and lifestyle is a worthy vocation for my life, one that helps to shape and define all my other vocations.
You may hear from others that Integral Philosophy is not practical enough, is not relevant enough, or is not popular enough to warrant adherence. Some of these people have wrestled with the philosophy and found it lacking, and others (while rejecting the views of Ken Wilber or other mainstream movement philosophers) have taken sectarian views and choose to promote them instead.
I know, because I have spent many hours tussling with these folks in the alienated chatterboxes called social media forums. And they’re fine right where they are, not ready for Integral Philosophy or not having understood its main findings. Splendidly, some of them have contributed significant advancements or beautifications to the Integral worldview through their critiques (and I have adopted all of their criticism that I have heard and could legitimize). Let it not be said that there is not a healthy spectrum of legitimate philosophical leanings within the Integral movement.
Opposed to the view of sectarian thinkers who would separate Ken Wilber’s nondual spirituality from his scaffolding of evolutionary metatheory, I would invite others to put such deep spirituality at the center of our purpose, as it is for me (at my best).
Remember Wilber’s words from the Foreword to The Atman Project:
The Atman project: the attempt to find Spirit in ways that prevent it and force substitute gratifications. And, as you will see in the following pages, the entire structure of the manifest universe is driven by the Atman project, a project that continues until we — until you and I — awaken to the Spirit whose substitutes we seek in the world of space and time and grasping and despair. the nightmare of history is the nightmare of the Atman project, the fruitless search in time for that which is finally timeless, a search that inherently generates terror and torment, a self ravaged by repression, paralyzed by guilt, beset with the frost and fever of wretched alienation — a torture that is only undone in the radiant Heart when the great search itself uncoils, when the self-contraction relaxes its attempt to find God, real or substitute: the movement in time is undone by the great Unborn, the great Uncreate, the great Emptiness in the Heart of the Kosmos itself.
I hear this today as a reminder to the Integral movement — the loosely-defined group of individuals who are inspired by Wilber’s philosophy, his contemporaries and critics, and predecessors such as Sri Aurobindo and Clare Graves. We are a community of evolutionaries, persons whose spirit is always under renovation.
As I see it, Ken’s writing is a call to think of the Integral movement not as a force of “grasping” and “despair” but of REMEMBRANCE.
Our remembrance ought to begin with Ken’s words — articulated in dozens of books and hundreds, if not thousands, of videos and blog posts — and the words of all his contemporaries who have walked alongside him in his Integral vision. From there, it ought to stretch out to Teilhard de Chardin, Jean Gebser, and other luminaries who have helped to build the Integral worldview.
Such remembrance is not veneration of these persons or their books or teachings, though it may be reverent; it is appreciation of the distinctive and original ways that they have each invited us to set aside our individual Atman projects in favor of an unqualified Spirit.
It is this remembrance that awakens us to our own realization.
And it is this awakening-from-remembrance that allows us to engage actively in the world of politics, morality, sexuality, art, and so on, freed from narcissistic attachments and nihilistic doom-seeking.
Hence, the Integral movement has a choice before it today: (A) to become a community of remembrance and awakening to Spirit, or (B) to become a substitute for such an authentic awakening, offering instead shallow visions, truncated theories, and rejections of nondual spirituality.
I once wrote a book, Soulfully Gay, which chronicled my personal journey into discovering Integral Philosophy and becoming an Integralist. Well, today I am older and (I hope) somewhat more conscious, still looking for inspiration from wisdom and holism, and still seeking connection to others who are walking a similar path. I am seeking Integralists, the kinds of folks who are choosing path A.