Top 10 Signs Your Spirituality Might Be Integral

Unlike traditional religions, spirituality can be as individual as you are. And when that spirituality is founded on Integral principles, it opens the door wide for expanding human potential for rich inner development, cultural progress, artistic creativity, and spiritual renewal. But how can you tell if your spirituality is really based on integral principles?

If your spirituality is integrally based, it’s a way of being in the world as who you truly are, giving you a roadmap to finding yourself, clarifying your values, facing and healing your shadows, and eventually losing yourself again in the bliss of identity with the driving force of evolution itself: Love. It’s that simple and elegant.

An integral spiritual worldview shows you the divinity of humanity mirrored equally in both our particular and universal identities: male and female, rich and poor, black and white, gay or straight, adult or child, mature or immature. It does not blur differences into a blah sort of fake uniformity, but allows us to be uniquely ourselves, fully human, and fully capable of realizing our divinity.

In fact, maybe you are Integral without even knowing it. Here are 10 signs that your spirituality might be integral:

10. You don’t find yourself easily offended by slights to your ego, subculture, or group identification; therefore “political correctness” has little appeal to you (though you intuitively tend to avoid causing others unnecessary pain through your words or deeds). You look for signs of agreement with others and try to mediate or negotiate solutions whenever possible. You realize that there are more ways to work for justice than complaining that people are being insensitive. You don’t try to silence or shout down those who disagree with you.

9. You have come to a compassionate stance with regard to religious fundamentalists and conservative zealots because you recognize that their own stage of evolution may be less than your own. You know that everyone has a part of the truth. You know that many of the worst problems in the world are caused by people who think they have the full truth when they only have a part. You believe sacred texts such as the Bible are a source of wisdom, even if they contain many teachings which aren’t useful today. You pick your battles for justice carefully and strategically, not by reacting out of anger or fear.

8. You don’t think spirituality and religion are antithetical: Whether or not you have found a spiritual community, you know that being fully human is not strictly an individual affair. You know no person is an island. You may even admire the strong bonds of commitment and devotion shown by the religiously orthodox or traditional, and you long for deeper relations with people in your community and — through virtual communities and/or travel — around the world. When someone asks if you believe in God, before you say yes or no, part of you wonders what they mean by “God” and questions whether you are both talking about the same thing.

7. You don’t look for “explanations” of religion as strictly a subject of interest to biologists, psychologists, anthropologists, social historians, or theologians, but seek comprehensive approaches that include individual and collective dimensions of spiritual experience in subjective and objective perspectives. You believe not only in biological evolution but you are at least open to the possibility that cultures and societies undergo a sort of evolution. You don’t think science and spirituality are opposed. You don’t want to stay “stuck in your head” all the time; however, at the same time, you want your spirituality to be intellectually rigorous, not anti-intellectual.

6. You are non-judgmental not because you want others to like you or you because you seek to avoid being judged by others, but because you recognize your own shadow in everything you judge. You don’t think spiritual people have to be nice all the time. You know that anger — even rudeness — can have a healthy place in the spiritual life. You are skeptical when you hear of spiritual people blaming sick people for causing their own illnesses. You want to be free of shame, but still take responsibility for mistakes and shortcomings without blaming every problem on other individuals or classes of people.

5. You reject beliefs that insist on classifying people into victims and perpetrators, because you know that ultimately Spirit knows no such distinctions and every person has light and dark within themselves. You understand that many -isms such as classism, sexism, racism, and so forth, are wrong and need to be addressed; at the same time, you know that these socio-cultural conventions emerged in the context of a world evolving in greater degrees of Spirit and reflect the concerns of earlier stages in religious and cultural development. You believe strongly in human liberation, but think the ways that most people think of liberation are too limiting.

4. You reject overly simplistic answers to complex questions, and realize that our beliefs about ultimate reality should not seek to diminish, sentimentalize, or rationalize the mysterious and awe-inspiring nature of life. Likewise you try to avoid supposedly certain answers for understanding the mystery of death. Whether you believe in heaven and hell, reincarnation, or are agnostic about the afterlife, you know that human life is purposeful and our actions make a difference in this world. You understand that denial of death is the hallmark of an ego that doesn’t understand its true nature, its higher Self.

3. You are concerned about both ecology and justice not only in your community, but for all people around the world, part of your concern to alleviate the suffering and contribute to the holistic development of all sentient beings. You may have evolved beyond thinking only about people in your community or ethnic group or nation. You may have discovered a worldcentric worldview, one which realizes that in the 21st century it isn’t good enough to only think locally but also to think globally. You are deeply concerned by environmental concerns and protecting the natural world for future generations, but you know that technology isn’t the root of all evils; it can sometimes be the solution.

2. You recognize that Eros pervades every dimension of the world, and you celebrate erotic energy as well as spiritual energy because they are ultimately one. Nevertheless, you give sex a unique role for encountering beauty, expressing blissful play, exercising ethical behavior, and for giving and receiving love. You aren’t afraid to talk about subtle energies of yin and yang or masculine and feminine. You know that our gender and sexual roles are biologically, culturally, and sociologically conditioned; at the same time you recognize that there are meaningful cross-cultural patterns and universals that we can benefit from understanding.

1. You aren’t afraid to see your own divinity, inside and out. You may worry about arrogance sometimes, but you don’t think pride is the worst sin. You know that having self-esteem is important and that it is only genuine when it is based on recognition of your intrinsic worth, gorgeous uniqueness, and inner divinity. You know it’s safe to “come out of the closet” about both your shadows and your light, and doing so is central to your spiritual journey.  You strive to overcome all limited conceptions of who you are into a fully authentic sense that accepts everything that arises in an integral embrace as not distinct from your own highest Self.

If you look at your life and beliefs and see some or all of these signs, then you are discovering that you may already have an Integral worldview. I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about the Integral philosophy of life and World Spirituality. Follow me, Joe Perez, on Facebook and Twitter and learn more about my approach to spirituality on Awake, Aware & Alive.

Can language change biology?

Amazon Tribe
Photo Credit: pierre pouliquin

Cultural differences, including language, may be a possible driver of biological evolution, research implies. An article in Discover Magazine reports on research involving the Xavánte, an Amazon aboriginal tribe, and concludes:

Hostile neighbors still tend to exchange genes (e.g., kidnapping of women for brides, or slaves which are eventually assimilated into the enslaving tribe). Only a small amount of gene flow is necessary to prevent the accumulation of group-level differences. So you need strong between group selection to maintain those differences. In contrast, cultural differences can easily manifest in large between group variation, and little within group variation. An accent is the most obvious illustration. A tribe can easily have a distinctive accent which immediately separates it from its neighbors, and only manifests modest within group variation (e.g., along generational lines). The model posited here is that these between group cultural differences are powerful enough to driven biological differences. Are they? I am not sure that they are at this fine a scale, but am open to the proposition.

via Culture evolves our bodies! | Gene Expression.

Languages love multiple meanings like a dog loves to grip a Frisbee

Dog with frisbee
Photo Credit: Reina Cañí

Sometimes I wonder why I (more than occasionally) read Language Log. In a lengthy post ostensibly on the word “draft,” Mark Liberman offers a memorable simile for people who like etymology.

He writes:

[H]umans who love to explore etymology are like dogs avidly smelling the crap that other dogs have rubbed into their fur.

By way of explanation, he quotes Tom Davis’s book Why Dogs Do That:

There are couple of theories, by no means mutually exclusive, that explain why dogs take such obvious and unabashed delight in rolling in stuff that makes us gag: excrement, carrion (the older and fouler, the better), anything and everything that is rotten, putrid and deliquescent. And they don’t just roll in it; wriggling joyfully on their backs, they do their damnedest to smear it around and rub it in. The specific hypothesis suggest that dogs roll in stinky stuff to mask their own scent, and thus gain an edge over prey species […] (Contemporary human deer hunters do much the same thing when dousing their clothing with various bottled scents.)

The other theory, more general in application, holds that it’s a way for a dog to tell other dogs where they’ve been and what they found there. A dog streaked with excrescence is viewed by his brethren as a storyteller, and canine society hold storytellers in high esteem.

Much as I find Liberman’s simile, um, interesting, I think he runs far afield of the essential point about polysemy — the coexistence of many possible meanings for a word or phrase — in language. He begins by wondering if, as Geoff Pullum says, languages love multiple meanings like a dog rolling around in fresh grass. But then he gets lost, well, maybe like a dog who rolls around in mud or feces, shifting from a discussion of the preoccupations of language to the preoccupations of etymologists.

The pleasure of etymologists in relishing ambiguity is pretty carnal and passionate. Language, however, is dispassionate regarding polysemy.

From a cultural evolutionary perspective, polysemy varies from time to time, place to place…and it is not altogether clear whether it is an evolutionary necessity or artifact.

If we spiritual evolutionaries are correct in our belief that language is evolving into greater degrees of congruity and uniformity with underlying subtle principles, then polysemy may increasingly fade as it becomes less efficient or useful for the sorts of communication becoming increasingly important in the 21st century and beyond. I can’t say for sure if decreasing polysemy is an evolutionary by-product, but it would at the very least be a worthy subject of linguistic research.

In that case, languages embrace multiple meanings according to their usefulness at any given stage in evolution. Languages love to be helpful. They hold multiple meanings like a dog clutches a Frisbee in her teeth, gripping them so long as it is fun and stimulating…but eventually the stress becomes exhausting.

Is Every Electron in the Universe a Unique Facet of the Same Particle?

Electron - by MohammadHasan - flickr
Photo Credit: MohammadHasan – flickr

Ever heard of an old soul? According to one theory making the rounds among physicists, virtually every electron in your body may be more than a googol years old (10 to the 125th power), much older than the universe itself, if I understand the premise correctly.

A fascinating article at io9 by Alasdair Wilkins imagines that every electron in the universe is a single particle:

As Wheeler pointed out, each electron traces out a unique path through spacetime, which is its world line. He simply connected all the forward-traveling electrons and backwards-traveling positrons into a single gigantic world line, imagining a particle tracing its way back and forth through the history of the universe to become every electron and positron we had ever observed. And that was why all electrons were indistinguishable.

The implications of this would be absolutely tremendous. Current estimates suggest there’s about 1080 atoms in the observable universe, so let’s use that same figure for the number of electrons. (Actually, since the vast majority of those are one-electron hydrogen atoms anyway, that isn’t much of a stretch.) The universe is already nearly 14 billion years old, but it will last far, far longer than that, although the ultimate age of the universe depends on which theory of its final fate you subscribe to.

Since we’re really only going for a rough estimate anyway, let’s just use 4.6*1026 years, which is the lower limit for the lifetime of an electron before it decays (assuming it actually decays, which isn’t a certainty). So then, if the one electron universe is correct, that single particle has traveled through the universe 1080 times, with each journey taking 460 septillion years, and you can double that for all its return trips as a backwards-going positron.

That means, by the end of its journey, the electron is 2*4.6*1024*1080 years old, or just about 10105 years old. That’s ten-thousand googol years old. That also means that 99.99% of the electrons in your body, and indeed everywhere in the universe, have already been traveling for over a googol years…assuming this is true, of course. I don’t know about you, but I suddenly feel weirdly ancient.

It’s going too far to call the idea of a one electron universe a full-fledged theory, or really anything close too it – it’s more of a gloriously unconventional thought experiment. But that doesn’t change the fact that, from a strictly theoretical perspective, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Sure, your intuition probably tells you that this is very, very unlikely, but classical world intuition doesn’t mean anything in the quantum world.

via What if every electron in the universe was all the same exact particle?.

The article goes on to explain some very good reasons why the One Electron Theory isn’t very likely.

Likely or not, I can’t say from the physicist’s perspective, but I do feel that the whole existence of the universe at all strikes me as pretty damn unlikely.

On Chinese phonosemantics (or: why does “cop” mean the same thing in many unrelated languages?)


It’s always interesting to read articles on phonosemantics and related fields when they come out, especially one that examines a language that I don’t read. Linguist Victor Mair looks at a few recent efforts to identify the underlying phonosemantic patterns in the Chinese language, including this one:

William Rozycki has written a stimulating article (“Phonosymbolism and the Verb cop”) in which he attempts to show that various presumably unrelated languages around the world have independently chosen the syllable kap, or some close variant thereof, to convey the following meanings: “take, grasp, grab, seize, capture”. He is able to cite an impressive amount of evidence in favor of his contention.

Rozycki explicitly states that he makes no claim for the universality of phonosymbolism, yet the manner in which he presents his argument leads him to come dangerously close to making such an assertion. Here is the distillation of his thesis:


I will present both historic and areal evidence that a tendency or force is at work in the connection of the phonetic shape [kap] and the semantic range of ‘catch, seize, snatch.’ Like suprasegmentals in relation to the workings of phonology, this phonosymbolic force is another dimension, not yet clearly understood, that exerts influence on the process of word formation.

Rozycki, William. “Phonosymbolism and the Verb cop.” Journal of English Linguistics, 25.3 (September, 1997), 202-206.

and this one:

Below are Howell’s big picture conclusions about Proto-Chinese.

The language is phonosemantic in nature.

Seven concepts (Frame, Continuum, Concealment, Supple, Spread, Small / Slender, Straight) generated all its terms excepting onomatopoeia and a handful of loan words. Each concept corresponds to an initial consonant (K L M N P S and T, respectively). When secondary concepts (Extend; Encompass, Adhere / be proximate; Press; Continuum; Cut / Divide / Reduce) were to be conveyed, this function was performed by the consonant within the final (-NG -M -N -P -R and -T respectively).

The y?nf?? (“sound note”) in xngsh?ng z ???(“phono-semantic compounds”) was intended to suggest not only the character’s pronunciation but also its meaning, again with the exception of onomatopoeia and loan words.

All compound characters created in Proto-Chinese that traditionally have been assigned to the huy z ???(ideogrammic compounds) category were devised as phono-semantic compounds (???). Apparent anomalies in compound characters owe to 1) transposed, abbreviated or otherwise altered elements, 2) sound notes the independent character forms of which dropped out of use, and 3) pronunciation changes owing to consonant shifts in either the initial or the final.

Consonant shifts in derived terms, occurring in both the initials and the finals, correspond to shifts in meaning, and these follow the conceptual associations noted above….

[Victor Mair’s critique of the thesis omitted; see original site.]

Howell considers his phonosemantics to be a type of phonosymbolism, but I believe that his system is far more comprehensive in its scope and has been developed with greater attention to the specifics of the Chinese writing system. Nonetheless, for the reasons outlined above, I am not convinced that the Howell-Morimoto scheme can explain the origins and development of the Old Sinitic lexicon.

For those who might wish to judge for themselves, Howell’s data (as noted at the outset) may be accessed online (no charge); they are also available through the site in book form as Kanji Etymology….

via Phonosymbolism and Phonosemantics in Chinese.

Cards on the table. I’m a sort of universal Kabbalist. My own philosophical/mystical presupposition informs me that OF COURSE there must be phonosemantic connections in Chinese and in every language under the sun because God/Spirit emanates through all languages in patterns that are inherently meaningful and evolving (not random chance).

However, the state of academic knowledge about what those patterns are, and how buried they are, and an understanding of how much they can be identified and reconstructed at all, is embryonic.

That these connections exist to a certain degree is perfectly clear from what limited cross-cultural phonosemantic research has been done; it’s the “how much is this true?” and the “so what if it is true?” questions that are most perplexing.

Robot study gives clues to evolution of language

Robot Communication

Language evolution may be driven by mutations designed to increase the robustness of survival, a study reports:

Even if everything about different groups of animals is identical down to the level of their genes and physical surroundings, they can develop unique ways to communicate, according to an experiment done with robots that use flashing lights to “talk.”

The Swiss researchers used the robots to get handle on why there is such diversity in communication systems within and between species, something that is difficult to do in living animals.

The answer, they found, “is contingencies in evolutionary history, i.e. stochasticity (randomness) in the occurrence order of new … traits,” Steffen Wischmann, a researcher in the department of ecology and evolution at the University of Lausanne, told me in an email….

In other words, there’s a tradeoff between communication efficiency and competitive robustness, the researchers note. And, randomness in evolutionary history can affect the outcome of competition between populations.

via Future of Technology (MSNBC).

A perfectly efficient language will never evolve, one might speculate, because efficiency is just one among many variables to have an impact on species survival.

Jeff Carreira on self and language

Jeff Carriera

On the Evolutionary Collective blog, Jeff Carreira writes:

We are all trapped in a self-image a set of ideas that we identify with as who we are. If you want to discover radical freedom then you have to look closely at what choices you are making that are causing you to have the identity that you are experiencing right now. It has been my experience that the key to discovering the mechanism of self-construction is recognizing that there are two kinds of thoughts….

Consider these two thoughts, I could have Mexican food. vs. I want Mexican food. The second is much more laden with identity. It is infused with selfhood. The first one we simply relate to as a thought to be considered. The second one we relate to as a statement about ourselves, from ourselves, telling us who we are. If you examine how we construct our sense of self you will find that it is constructed with thoughts just like, I want Mexican food. I am a mother. I am a good person. I am a person who does this and not that.. and on and on and on. Our self is constructed by a never-ending string of conclusions that appear in our minds as statements directed toward us telling us who we are and who we are not.

via Self, Reality, Truth and Language  Part II.

True. And behind “I want…” and “I could have…” constructions is the same pronoun, I, which exerts its power over all language speakers (i.e., the first-person pronoun in whatever language).

Carriera continues:

This realization [of linguistic conditioning] is part of the dawning of enlightenment. It is the realization that there is a whole classification of thought that we have unknowingly and blindly accepted as accurate descriptions of who we are. This is what spiritual ignorance is the unconscious belief that a certain set of unexamined ideas defines the limit of who we are.

Indeed, coming into greater awareness of linguistic conditioning is the essence of a certain sort of enlightenment: a lifting of one’s exclusive identification of self with the ego. In terms of World Spirituality, it’s the raising of consciousness from personal self to True Self.

And yet there is a further realization, in the work of Marc Gafni, in which language is not seen as a barrier to enlightenment but a gateway. At a higher plane of awareness than True Self, there is Unique Self: the True Self as embodied through a particular (linguistic) perspective.

From the Unique Self view, “I want Mexican food” can be a full and completely enlightened utterance, if the “I” refers not the personal self but to the Unique Self, a non-dual way of being in the world in which the Self is fully inhabited at its most expansive point.

Monkey faces and the evolution of language

Monkey Face
Photo Credit: 10000 wishes

A secret to the evolution of language may be found in the face of a monkey. A report on io9 explains:

New World Monkeys are the strangest-looking primates on Earth and they all look nothing like each other, from the bald-headed, demon-like Uakari to the lion-maned golden marmoset to the massively mustachioed emperor tamarin up top. What’s behind this insane variety?

That’s the question UCLA researcher Michael Alfaro set out to answer that question. The monkeys of Central and South America represent a truly staggering amount of facial diversity, with many species like the emperor tamarin sporting truly epic facial hair. But it’s unlikely that all these monkeys evolved such bizarre appearances just to amuse us so what’s really going on here?

Alfaro and his team realized the monkeys’ faces weren’t the only thing that had unusually strong variation. The social structure of the different species also varied greatly, with some living almost completely solitary existences while others lived in huge populations of a hundred or more….

They discovered that the monkeys with the most complex faces tended to live by themselves, while those who lived in groups tended to have plain faces. Another factor behind facial diversity seems to be the proximity of other species. When lots of different monkey species live in close quarters, they will tend to have much more complicated faces than more isolated species.

The study has implications for understanding language, the report continues:

Our species, generally speaking, has quite simple, bare faces, and of course we’ve also evolved what is arguably the most sophisticated system of communication in our planet’s history. Language itself might never have emerged if we were lion-maned or hugely-mustached or even polka-dotted basically, anything that would have kept our ancestors from producing crisp, clear facial expressions.

via Why are monkeys’ faces all so bizarrely different?.

Food for thought:

As language continues to evolve, will the human face change too? It seems inevitable.

As human beings grow in consciousness to expanded awareness of linguistic constructs, how will this affect the evolution of the new languages, body language, facial expressions, and even the body itself?

On the philosophy of personal branding and selling

Personal Branding

One of the most important pillars of the integral worldview is its understanding that there is not simply one self, but a myriad of constructed selves operating in highly complex contexts which are themselves manifestations of an ultimate reality.

So the self is personal and transpersonal; either way, the self does not exist independently from the language used to communicate its nature. The self is always communicated; that is to say, from a perspective which emphasizes certain values, the self is always branded.

One contrarian, Olivier Blanchard, hates putting the word personal next to the word brand. On The BrandBuilder Blog, he writes:

Here’s the thing: People are people. They aren’t brands. When people become “brands,” they stop being people and become one of three things: vessels for cultural archetypes, characters in a narrative, or products. (Most of the time, becoming a brand means they become all three.) Unlike people, brands have attributes and trade dress, slogans and tag lines which can all be trademarked, because unlike people, brands exist to ultimately sell something.

That core need to build a brand to ultimately sell something is at the very crux of the problem with “personal branding.” Can you realistically remain “authentic” and real once you have surrendered yourself to a process whose ultimate aim is to drive a business agenda?

Perhaps more to the point – and this is especially relevant in the era of social communications and the scaling of social networks – is there really any value to turning yourself into a character or a product instead of just being… well, who you are? And I am not talking about iconic celebrities, here. I am talking about people like you and me.

Think about it. Those of us who truly value attributes like transparency and authenticity (and that would be the vast majority of people) don’t want to sit in a room with a guy playing a part. If I am interviewing an applicant for a job, the less layers between who he is and who he wants me to think he is, the better. Those extra layers of personal branding, they’re artifice. They’re disingenuous. They’re bullshit. I am going to sense that and the next thought that will pop up in my head is “what’s this guy really hiding?”

via R.I.P. Personal Branding.

Leaving aside whether Blanchard has accurately described any actually existing school of personal branding thought, he does have a perfectly legitimate view of the self from a perspective which sees business values (reputation, image, profit, etc.) as anathema to personal values (namely transparency and authenticity).

His view resonates with postmodernism’s obsession with transparency at the expense of all other values, and its de-coupling of authenticity with achievement (“Tell me how you really feel, not what you want to achieve.”) Blanchard can hardly imagine that achievement and its necessary components (e.g., slogans, tag lines, resumes, etc.) can actually be authentic to a self, apparently because they are foreign to his self-sense (they look like artifices to him).

Blanchard’s post earned a strong and lengthy rebuke at the Personal Branding Blog, where Oscar Del Santo replies, in part:

His tirade begins with a statement that sadly lacks philosophical or sociological sophistication and can therefore be easily dismantled: “People are people,” he tells us, “they aren’t brands. When people become brands they stop being people.” Not quite, I’m afraid. By the same token and under the same faulty premises we could fallaciously argue that people are not consumers, clients, voters, patients, citizens or biological entities. Yet people are of course all of those things and many more depending on the specific context and focus under consideration. And there is no question in my mind that in our digital 2.0 world people are (perhaps for the first time) also brands and have brand-like attributes they can use for their benefit without in any way, shape or form forsaking their humanity or their identity as people.

From the ulterior development of his argument, we learn that the animosity Mr Blanchard feels towards brands and personal branding stems from his negative associations with selling and the misconception that we can only sell by becoming “a character or a product”. “That core need to build a brand to ultimately sell something”, he states, “is at the very crux of the problem with ‘personal branding’. Can you realistically remain authentic and real once you have surrendered yourself to a process whose ultimate aim is to drive a business agenda?”. The answer to his question is obviously a resounding ‘yes’: I have not surrendered myself to any evil process or become inauthentic to create a successful personal brand and sell my services any more than I believe he has done so in order to become a social media author and sell his books. To claim otherwise without proof is intellectually arrogant and plainly misguided. And of course, both he and I – along with everyone else with a career – have “a business agenda to drive” (even if it is is just to remain in business!) and need to sell a product, service or idea: and we are none the worse for that.

I am glad to find in his post the words transparency and authenticity and once again sad that he should need to retort to expletives and offensive accusations to put forward his case (“those extra layers of personal branding are artifice… They’re bulls**t… Don’t be a fake. Drop the personal branding BS”). On at least one account I can most certainly put his mind to rest: nobody here is trying to be a fake or condone such behavior. In fact, our personal branding philosophy goes well beyond his own premises and not only has transparency and authenticity at its core, but is emphatically built on the primacy of values, can be profoundly spiritual, and is open to people from all walks of life including minorities….

Del Santo correctly realizes that Blanchard is attacking a straw man, not personal branding as it is actually described by its proponents. He and Blanchard seem unable to recognize whether “selling” can be part of the “authentic” self or not. Drawing on his personal experience (and that of others, I’m sure), he disagrees.

But is it really necessary to say that one or the other must be correct? When human development is understood as a continuum, and the self is understood as a developmental line, then actually both views can be viewed as correct from a certain point of view.

Let us loosely apply the labels modern, postmodern, and integral to describe the different philososphical points of view, each arising in a developmental sequence.

  1. The modern self is seen as divided between personal and business, and the latter is often taken as a roadmap for personal development. You are what you earn. Your business is like your family. You are the CEO of your own life. Your life has a bottom line. Achievement is everything. You work with brands, but you are likely to think of those brands as external to yourself. Your work life and personal life are highly differentiated and possibly segregated, and it is common to want to “leave work at the office.”
  2. The postmodern self is seen as authentic. You are more than the sum of your achievements. You are what you feel, think, and do. You are so inherently complex and nuanced that no social structure, no business, can fit you without alienating who you really are. Being real is everything. You know what’s real because it’s what you are developmentally moving away from: it’s everything that a business is not. The postmodern self sees its own stage of development as the end-point of self-actualization and does not recognize the difference between the modern self and the integral self.
  3. The integral self is seen as both authentic and an achievement. You don’t just be yourself, you become yourself; thus, selfhood is finally recognized as an achievement. Excessive attention to the interior life and its dramas fades away. Excesssively anti-business views and anti-achievement attitudes fade away. What remains is an achieving, evolving self. The new self must find ways of communicating itself and connecting with others who recognize its value. The new self reaches for a (trans)personal brand, a (trans)personal image, a (trans)personal worldview, etc., which allows it to integrate the stages of its previous development and interrelate with others.

So when looking at the debate between personal branding and its critics, it’s important to ask yourself: what is the self that is being branded? There is not just one self, and people often talk past each other when they fail to recognize this philosophical point.

The sunflower is a teacher

Don’t you love it when inventors discover a better way to create something new by studying the way nature works?

The mathematics of the spiral — and the magnificent spirals of sunflowers — have inspired new solar technology. Wired Science reports:

Next they looked to nature to improve the design further. The florets of a sunflower — small flowers at the center of the petals, which mature into seeds — are arranged in a stunning spiral fashion that’s impressed mathematicians for years.

The arrangement — a form of Fermat spiral — has each floret turned at a “golden angle” – about 137 degrees – with respect to its neighbor.

The researchers twisted each mirror to be 137 degrees relative to its neighbor and it made a huge difference. The optimized layout takes up 20 percent less space than the current layout of the PS10 in Spain, and even increased total efficiency.

via Sunflowers Inspire Better Solar Power Tech.

Similarly, we can create something new in our lives by studying human nature. The code to fulfilling our unique purpose in life is pictured in the design of our DNA, the breadth of our imagination, and the fullness of our ethical striving to be better.