Defining “Integral” (With Postscript Regarding Zak Stein)

Note: The following post was originally published on on August 2, 2011. Since writing this piece over three years ago, my views have become more clear. I have therefore added a postscript to show my current view, which is that the cultural critic may safely ignore Zak Stein’s argument. 

Several months ago, Zachary Stein of DTS and the Harvard University Graduate School of Education passed along his paper, “On the Use of the Term Integral,” (published in the proceedings of the 2nd Biennial ITC in 2010 and forthcoming from SUNY). I intended to write about the issues it raises on my blog, but then I took an extended writing leave.

Now that this blog is finally going again, I think Stein’s thesis is well worth considering right out of the starting gate. What is the term “Integral” all about? And, since this is my blog, how do I intend to use the term on Joe Perez (the blog)?

Three Ways to Define “Integral”

There are basically three varieties of answers to the first question. First, answers from those who are “in the know” about the so-called Integral movement, a loosely defined constellation of books, teachers, coaches, conferences, events, and even blogs centered around Ken Wilber‘s many writings and the work of previous “Integral thinkers” such as Sri Aurobindo and Jean Gebser, who used the term in ways that inspired Wilber.

Second, answers from those whose use of the term is connected to its more common uses (i.e., the dictionary definition meaning “whole” or “essential”) or easy use in the New Age movement, where it is occasionally used along with terms such as “holistic” without any intended association with Wilber’s philosophy.

Third — and this usage doesn’t really concern us much because it is so uncommon — is the appropriation of “Integral” by a few bloggers and such who are familiar with Wilber’s work but are opposed to his views. Some have insisted that their own views are best called “Integral” and that Wilber and allied thinkers aren’t really “Integral.”

Exorcising the “Integral” Demons

Zachary Stein’s essay focuses on the first usage of “Integral,” which is also the sense in which the term will be used generally on this blog. He conducts what he calls a “terminological exorcism;” that is, expelling “magical,” “richly luminous,” or “almost religious” connotations in favor of more careful and accurate use of the term.

It’s not that Stein wants to de-legitimize the “deeply religious bent” of the term’s most influential proponents (Sri Aurobindo, James Mark Baldwin, and Jean Gebser among them). Instead, he wants to clear up confusion about how the term is actually used when describing human development. He asks us to consider whether we are using the term descriptively or normatively.

“Integral” fails when it is used descriptively, Stein argues, because it is often applied liberally to refer to stages at the upper end of the spectrum of human development and to provide a positive, normative valuation of those stages. But, Stein says:

[O]ne form of common usage [of “integral”] entangles this term with discourses about the higher levels. But these ways of deploying the term integral—where it is used as a descriptive term—are liability prone, and land us in confusions about what the higher stages are really like. Using the term as a catch-all for characterizing properties and products of late-stage development blinds us to the heterogeneity of what shows up beyond formal operations and the non-obvious value thereof. (p. 14, 15)

He says that uses of the term as a catch-all are connected with a highly problematic “growth-to-goodness” philosophical assumption present in the Integral movement (though not Wilber’s own writings, which are “poly-vocal and rich with footnotes and caveats.”) Indeed, he supplies several examples intended to show that “Integral” is more of a potential made available at higher-levels rather than a description. Additionally, he says:

[I]t is more accurate to take Integral as a term used with reference to a specific sub-set of high level capabilities, dispositions, and artifacts. These would be those that are taken as valuable, admirable, and worthy of pursuit. That is, out of all that becomes possible beyond formal operations, Integral is used as a label for what is preferable. (p. 15)

All in all, I find Zachary’s recommendations compelling, at least as a guide for the sort of usage of “Integral” that I find most helpful for this blog going forward. I’ll leave it to professional psychological theorists to weigh in on the question or whether it is appropriate to dispense with the term for the basis of their research. I suspect that Stein’s recommendation will probably not meet much resistance.

The Struggle to Use “Integral” Well as a Term of Art

Freeing the term “Integral” from any assumption that it describes the psychological stage of maturity of those to whom it is applied is liberating. In the early days of this blog, I struggled (e.g., here and here) to find ways of applying the term in critical discourse without appearing to be making some sort of illegitimate psychological profile without adequate empirical data.

When I used the term “Integral” as a descriptor in Rising Up, I was constantly sidetracked by a need I felt to justify a “diagnosis” rather than simply weigh-in on certain formal features of someone’s writing. Moreover, the book’s (and blog’s) use of developmental models in cultural criticism was largely ignored both by the mainstream pundits and even among most Integral writers. I don’t know why, but my suspicion is that others were hesitant to follow in the direction of using “Integral” in cultural criticism because of some of the confusion between descriptive and normative terminology discussed by Stein.

Nevertheless, I gained some important lessons from “cutting new grooves” with Rising Up that are salient to this conversation. Most of all, I learned that the act of applying the label “Integral” to the discourses we experience — whether they are internal thought dialogues, conversations with friends, or blogs on the World Wide Web — is a valuable and consciousness-expanding practice.

There is, I believe, a stage of development in which a person may find themselves needing to use evolutionary or developmental metaphors for repairing fragmented worldviews and restore psychological equilibrium. For individuals with this psychic structure, it is worthwhile to remember “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (Mark 10:15), and thus pick up everything they encounter as a child takes a toy, hold it up for examination, and say, “This is Integral. This isn’t Integral,” or “This is Red meme. This is Blue meme. This is Orange meme. This is Yellow meme,” and so on.

Without going through the process of mentally recalibrating the engines of thought to account for new developmentally-framed discourses, my maturation process would have been short-circuited. While it’s fine to distinguish between descriptive and evaluative in theory, and it’s probably a commendable discipline to practice for psychological theorists, in practice the two are often interwoven.

The statement, “Barack Obama’s speech about ‘red America’ and ‘blue America’ is an example of ‘Integral’ discourse,” would not be disputed by any Integral thinker that I know (or would respect as an “Integral thinker” if I knew.) But is that sentence descriptive or evaluative? How could it be re-written so as to be one but not the other? It makes my mind pause to even attempt such exorcism of language on the fly.

Opening the Door to the “Integral Closet”

Is it really important that people at post-formal levels of development make this distinction in everyday conversation, or is that really just a concern for psychological theorists who need to get their papers approved by editorial boards sometimes filled with academics ignorant of the last few decades of developmental literature? I suspect the latter is the case. Continue reading “Defining “Integral” (With Postscript Regarding Zak Stein)”

Since I’ve Been Away … Or: Have We Become Altitude Denialists?

Yes, it was a little bit of a stunt, a dramatic gesture not usually made in civil debate. But I did it anyway. I told Frank Visser, head of Integral World, that I believed his arguments to be “orange”, and then I asked him to take an assessment test. (The context: Frank Visser recently added a new chapter to his widely read book on Ken Wilber which I dissected in a way that Frank did not like.) If Frank would show the world his results, I said, I would share the results of my own assessments publicly.

Frank Visser’s only reply so far is a quip. [Update 12/12/2014: “Proud to be ORANGE” by Frank Visser]

Meanwhile, I’ve received a variety of supportive and critical comments from members of the Integral community. Some of these leave me genuinely puzzled and worried. You see, I haven’t followed every post on every Facebook forum or Ning community over the past several years, so I’ve got some catch-up work to do.

I’m a bit stunned. And I have to wonder aloud … since I’ve been away … has it become impossible to discuss altitude openly even within the Integral community? If that’s true then I’m afraid that the Integral revolution is over. And Integral has already lost.

There were early signs that I’d been away from the blogosphere for too long. Immediate reactions to my challenge to Frank: I was told that I was inviting an “altitude contest” and an “altitude competition” and “altitude waving” and “arguing from altitude” (John Vagnon). (There were also replies from outside the integral community that found my offer “appalling” and “Pulling Rank”.) Vagnon wrote:

Here’s my problem with argument from Altitude. It has nothing to do with hurting people’s feelings. Its just imprecise. If someone is arguing from a “blue/amber” altitude, they might be incorrect (or partially incorrect) about something – not because of their altitude – but because of reasons that come from higher altitudes. Those reasons are expressible in language. A blue (or lower) argument that the Bible is literally true is limited for reasons we can express without simply calling it “blue”. If Frank’s view is limited because his argument is limited to orange – and it well might be – those limitations can be identified with post-modern critique – with no need to refer to altitude or to engage in altitude competition.

Vagnon’s views were supported by Elliott Ingersoll, a psychologist and co-author of 2010 book, Integral Psychotherapy. Ingersoll wrote:

As psychologists we can’t even agree on what personality is, let alone consciousness or levels of consciousness – really. We’re all over the place….

There is no psychological test that functions to capture the whole of how a person experiences/interacts with the world….

The idea of levels of consciousness, even as a holarchy, may not be at all what is going on….

We need to use such tools carefully because – and here is the kicker – we don’t understand the 3 pounds of miraculous tissue between our ears that seems to be running much of the show….

It’s ok – we are a work in progress but there is no objective psychological science that can “explain” what a person’s views on a subject reflect so no test can be administered that “explains” those views (or explains them away)….

Continue reading “Since I’ve Been Away … Or: Have We Become Altitude Denialists?”

Transmitting the Unique Self Symphony of Love

Recently Marc Gafni and Sally Kempton led a celebration of spiritual teaching and Unique Self Dharma at the 5th annual World Spirituality Retreat at Esalen. Kerstin Zohar Tuschik is providing a paraphrased summary of some of the teachings on the blog of the Center for Integral Wisdom. Part 3 of 4 includes these offerings:

Marc Gafni: “There is not only a covenant between God and the children of Israel but also a covenant between the children of Israel and their children and their children… a covenant between the generations. Israel are ‘those who wrestle with God.’ That is us. Every generation is responsible for the evolution of consciousness. It is our turn now.”

The transformation of the all includes our own transformation: If you work your issues just for yourself, transformation is difficult to achieve. If you work your issues for the sake of the evolution of love, that changes the entire game. The energy you now have available for your own transformation is huge. It is fueled by the evolutionary impulse itself that is living in you, as you, and through you.

But it doesn’t stop there. Seeing someone living their Unique Self, we cannot help but fall in love with them. That doesn’t mean we will engage them in a romantic sense, but it will inspire us and others to live their Unique Self as well.

That is what creates what Marc calls a “Unique Self symphony.”

And he reminds us: “I am not supposed to heal the whole thing. I am here to play my instrument.”

And that is exactly what closes the gap between “our ability to feel and our ability to heal.” This gap is what all too often causes us to close our hearts, feel paralyzed, and continue “business as usual” instead of doing what we need to do to heal the corner of the world that is ours to heal.

If we trust our ability to heal a dissonance or pain, we can allow ourselves to fully feel it. We can keep our hearts open, give the gifts of our Unique Self, and engage in the Sacred Activism that is ours to engage in.

Read the entire post, “An Outrageous Love Story”.

Photo Credit: haglundc via Compfight cc

A Challenge To Frank Visser

apple-and-orangeI enjoyed reading Frank Visser’s reply in “What Would Wilber Do?” to my earlier post called “Properly Integral: A Response To Frank Visser’s Three Disappointments”, after I got over a bit of frustration at having my arguments characterized to make me look as ridiculous as possible. It’s all a fair part of the blogging game and done in good fun.

Visser begins by once again bemoaning the lack of engagement with criticism he sees with critics by the integral community and especially by Ken Wilber, citing the example of Jeff Meyerhoff’s book. Since I have previously discussed this issue and note that he didn’t specifically reply to my points regarding Ken’s many responses to critics, willingness to change, and so forth, I am tempted to move on. He continues to repeat the canard that Wilber doesn’t engage with critics regardless of how many times this is pointed out to be incorrect in so many ways, the ways that really count.

There are other responses in Visser’s article which I am not going to take on directly because I think the answers suggest themselves to the discerning reader. To respond would only take the discussion in the direction of “Didn’t Wilber say a few inaccurate things over the course of more than twenty books, and why doesn’t this bother you as much as it bothers me and should bother everyone?” and “Doesn’t the fact that I’m subscribed to a bunch of opt-in E-mail lists that I personally joined prove that Integral thought is, in fact, overly marketed in the whole wide culture throughout all media markets everywhere in the world?” and “Doesn’t the fact that Wilber once wrote that Spirit offers a ‘spiritual explanation’ mean exactly that he thinks it is actually a ‘scientific explanation as these signifiers are understood by the orange vMEME’ too, and therefore his philosophy as a whole is bunk?”

Continue reading “A Challenge To Frank Visser”

The Integral Critic’s Dilemma: Beams And Struts Or Soft And Squishy?

By Joe Perez

Given that I wrote recently about an essay of Frank Visser’s which raised the topic of Ken Wilber’s 2006 Wyatt Earp post, I was given the opportunity to re-read what Ken had to say about cross-altitude criticism. It’s an important topic owing to the Integral worldview’s finding that there is not one consciousness that all people share, but a variety of worldspaces conditioned by our developmental level, each of which interact with other extant worldspaces out of virtually inescapable prisms of their own action-logic. Religious fundamentalists and postmodern feminist theorists don’t just disagree about facts, they talk right past each other in ways that neither quite understands.

In “What We Are, That We See. Part I: Response to Some Recent Criticism in a Wild West Fashion” (the Wyatt Earpy post), Ken Wilber wrote:

In short, it’s just ridiculous to say that I try to hide from this criticism, I live on it! Every new truth I find, I rejoice. That’s why it went from wilber-1 all the way to wilber-5. This is what second tier does automatically anyway, it takes new truths wherever it finds themand weaves them into larger tapestries. It can’t help doing so! If I find one, I am ecstatic! So mark this well: Only a first-tier mentality would even think that one would run away from good criticism. But then these folks…. Okay, I won’t even take a shot at that one, too easy.

But I suppose it should be pointed out that many of the ideas these critics offer are in fact at a green or orange altitude, and not even teal or turquoise altitude, where they could at least begin to see the integral patterns that connect. These critics simply cannot see these phenomena, which are “over their heads,” to borrow Kegan’s felicitous phrase—and they get absolutely furious, and I mean furious, when this is pointed out or even mentioned.

But furious or not, that happens to be a completely valid critical approach. So I’ll stop teasing the animals for a moment and get serious. For the developmentalist, some ideas are not at the altitude of those they are criticizing, and those criticisms, in those specific aspects, are nonsensical. Strictly speaking, they are neither true nor false, but empty.

Continue reading “The Integral Critic’s Dilemma: Beams And Struts Or Soft And Squishy?”

Attending To Their Leadership Maturity, Managers Discover Agility

Research demonstrates that business managers at higher stages of development are more effective at work, says leadership coach and author Rob McNamara. For greater “command”, “agility”, and “influence”, managers ought to attend to their own growth.

In “Agile Leaders—More Maturity, More Options”, he writes:

For those of you who approach your work with the intention to improve and accomplish the tasks your job demands of you, your aims are insufficient. Merely responding to the demands that are coming at you in your professional environment–and perhaps even doing so faster or more precisely—is not the definition of agile leadership. Many people misunderstand this.

First, agility in leadership depends on on a self-directed or “self-authoring” capability.

Yes, you should drive hard to achieve desired outcomes, but your self-chosen values should be your ultimate guide for how you pursue these aims. In other words, your leadership agility depends upon whether your actions are directed by your values or the ones around you—your boss’, or the organizational culture you find yourself in.

Instead of merely responding to the demands that are given to you, I’d like to urge you to pause and reflect on yourself, who you are and what ultimately serves your personal integrity?

Ask yourself, What values do you stand for? What behaviors do you stand against and oppose? Investigate why and clarify what matters most to you.

Next, if you have already mastered the ability to execute from your personally authored values, I’d also like to invite you to pause. The challenge that emerges with being value-driven is that we can often lack a larger situational awareness. To develop more agility, I encourage you to step back in the moment and attend directly to a larger aperture of experience. Practice seeing your feelings. What you are doing and how well you’re doing the activities of your job may only be the surface of your job. Dive beneath and sense into how you feel in the activities of your job. Sense behind or underneath the behaviors you are doing. Become curious about the implicit assumptions that you may not see without your greater curiosity.

This added level of self-awareness enables you learn and adapt faster. Ultimately, assumptions cut off important data flows. Information that may need to get into your attention is cut off when you make assumptions. Sense deeply into your work and yourself with curiosity. This is going to enable you to create contexts and processes that are more meaningful and more effective over time.

Read more at Ten Directions.

Photo Credit: liquidnight via Compfight cc

Properly Integral: A Response To Frank Visser’s Three Disappointments

I read Frank Visser’s “Reaching Out to the World” with appreciation and, at times, exasperation, particularly the conclusion in which he instructs the reader as to the “proper” way of approaching Integral philosophy. Here are my initial reactions, for what they’re worth.

Reading Visser’s essay, which he calls a new chapter of his decade-old book Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion, helps me to know Wilber better and see the Integral community and its detractors more clearly. That is a huge gift. I wish Frank nothing but good tidings for the future of his projects, especially Integral World.

For those who don’t know who he is, Visser is an intellectual biographer of Wilber’s who over time became one of his greatest detractors. After all these years, Frank admits that he is “disappointed”, actually a kind of “triple disappointment.” He regrets (1) that Wilber’s understanding of science was not “that deep”, that (2) Wilber did not respond to online critics who contributed to his website (which was formerly called The World of Ken Wilber, BTW), and that (3) the Integral community didn’t seem to mind.

All three of these disappointments color Frank’s new chapter, which is really sort of an old chapter for those of us who have been paying at least a little attention over the past decade. Let’s take a look at each of them.

The First Disappointment

I guess Visser’s critique of Wilber’s take on neo-Darwinism is almost supposed to be self-evidently true, a knock down by a giant of a 98-pound weakling in a grotesquely mismatched prize fight. But it doesn’t really convince. These two paragraphs are the crux of Visser’s argument, beginning with a Wilber quote:

In Integral Spirituality (2006) he [Ken Wilber] states:

That drive—Eros by any other name—seems a perfectly realistic conclusion, given the facts of evolution as we understand them. Let’s just say there is plenty of room for a Kosmos of Eros.[33]

This can be considered the core of Wilber’s philosophy—more central than holons, heaps, or artifacts; quadrants, levels, lines, states and all that jazz—not only the process of biological evolution, but the cosmos as a whole, is governed by a mysterious spiritual Force. Apparently, for Wilber, there is no other way to explain nature’s complexities. He is inspired in this respect by A.N. Whitehead’s process philosophy, which postulates an immanent divine force in evolution.[34]

While I have defended similar notions in the past, and have even criticized Wilber for misrepresenting the esoteric view of evolution[35] which postulates a divine upward drive towards complexity, after years of studying the field of biological evolution I would no longer hold that view. On the contrary, I discovered that science has offered many plausible explanations for the existence of cosmological and biological complexity. This makes the postulation of a spiritual Eros in the Kosmos rather premature. So instead of challenging Wilber from the perennialist position, which I did in my earlier writings, over the years I have challenged him on Integral World from the naturalistic position of science.[36] Let’s really get post-metaphysical. Let’s get physical![37] Though Wilber may be strong in the fields of mind and culture, his coverage of the domains of life and matter leaves much to be desired. This casts grave doubts on Wilber’s claim for a Theory of Everything.

How about that! If you hadn’t been paying attention, when Wilber opposed metaphysics Visser was for it, but later apparently Ken sort of came around and acknowledged that his work had one metaphysical premise, and just then Visser coincidentally turns around and becomes anti-metaphysical. Well, okay, fine. They’re both permitted to evolve, aren’t they?

I would ask you to notice two things about the Wilber quote chosen by Visser. First, that Wilber describes Eros as a “perfectly realistic conclusion”. Second, Wilber says that “there is plenty of room” for Eros in his philosophy. Wilber nowhere invokes Spirit as an “explanation” for the universe.

Continue reading “Properly Integral: A Response To Frank Visser’s Three Disappointments”

Bruce Sanguin: What The Incarnation Means To Evolutionary Mystics

Bruce Sanguin is an evolutionary mystic who believes that evolution is “a divine strategy for making a world that can make itself”. From this Integral perspective, he addresses the question of Jesus’s divinity. He writes:

I’ve been asked by one of our members to differentiate my position from Marcus Borg’s on the question of Jesus’ divinity/humanity.  Just to be clear, I didn’t write the post because I wanted to highlight our differences. I liked Marcus’s carefully considered response.

Perhaps it’s best if I simply clarify where I stand on this issue. First, I agree that Jesus didn’t believe he was G_d. As a devout Jew this notion would have struck him as blasphemous. Jesus was pissed when an admirer called him good, let alone G_d! And I agree that the early church gave him all the titles we subsequently came to associate with him—the Christ, the Word, Son of G_d, second person of the Trinity (incarnate Word).

Where I differentiate myself from many progressive Christians is that I may have a slighter more elevated notion of what constitutes our humanity. This is because I believe that we are, among all creatures, the ones gifted with the capacity to consciously evolve. Other creatures are perfect, in the sense that they are not likely to transcend themselves. A lion is an exquisite creature. But a lion is not stretching out consciously toward becoming more, deeper, or a higher expression of lion. It took a very long time for the universe to arrive at a lion, but once there, the lion is complete —perfected.

Not so with humans. We are the imperfect ones, incomplete, and able to strive towards completion, or better, participate consciously in the process of completion. Whether our development is ever complete is another question for another time. Our bodies and brain seem to be staying pretty much the same, (although when you watch the new crop of athletes in every sport, I am amazed at the evolution of the athlete’s body and capacities in every sport), but consciousness and culture continues to evolve.

We are the creatures who are meant for growth and development—at least in terms of expansion of consciousness and the realization of new potentials. Our intelligences are able to evolve, kinaesthetic, aesthetic, mathematical, emotional, moral, spiritual. We pass through stages of measurable development. When you read Evelyn Underhill’s description of the mystic’s path, or Sri Aurobindo description of higher levels of mind, you realize that there are stages of evolution in human consciousness and culture.

Now, this is where postmodern scholarship starts to have a conniption. Higher and lower stages of human development?! Hierarchy, eugenics, elitism, Nazism, colonialism, etc…  But, as Ken Wilber points out, there are dominator hierarchy (bad) and natural hierarchy (just the way a universe does its thing). Wholes become parts of larger wholes, which can exert an upward influence. G_d’s agapic Love is the largest Whole, if you like, which exerts a non-coercive, unifying pressure on the whole cosmos. G_d as Love is the largest Whole, drawing on all things into communion, ultimately with and in G_dself.

Read Bruce’s entire post.

The topic of Incarnation is a hefty one, and it is skillfully addressed by Sanguin’s blog post. As one contemplates divinity and humanity as a continuum rather than rigid opposites, one is better able to appreciate Jesus — proclaimed as Christ for Christians — along this continuum somewhere remarkable. There’s more to be said about this topic, and I plan to return to it as the Christmas season progresses.

Is A Universal Language Impossible?

Writing an article title with much confidence, Marc Ettlinger gives us a brief article: “Here’s Why The World Can Never Have One Universal Language”

His answer is two parts, and both of them are basically wrong. The first,

So, the first part of the answer is that the general tendency is for languages to propagate and diverge.

This is his most critical error. Ettlinger has mis-characterized the nature of linguistic processes. He pays lip service to but ultimately ignores the processes of globalization and the tendency for technology to homogenize the world into a global culture. Languages are converging, but he wants us to look the other way. Instead, he says that languages “change”.

Bull. We know that languages don’t merely “change”. They EVOLVE. They are part of this world, and this is an evolving world in which changes do not happen merely randomly and without purpose, but as part of emerging processes of a vast and often poorly-understood nature. The term “cultural evolution” is anathema in those parts of academia ruled by postmodern ideology, however.

Ettlinger picks the word “change” precisely, I’m sure, to avoid the connotation that there is some Hegelian Geist at work behind the scenes, secretly stacking the deck in favor of English and simplified Mandarin or whatever the case may be. But he does not argue his case for haphazard, happenstance “change”. He only assumes it, presumably because of his commitment to the ideology of irreducible pluralism. This is a common trope of contemporary linguists.

I am convinced that “evolution” is the better word for characterizing language transformations, but it might take some time for me to convince you if you are not already inclined to agree. As this blog unfolds, I’ll continue to share evidence showing how “evolve” is the more accurate term than “change”. But the question of “change” versus “evolution” is not an empirical one so much as an ideological one. If you are an academic disciple of irreducible relativism and pluralism, then you will never use a term that threatens the very premises of your work and may even threaten your good academic standing.

Continue reading “Is A Universal Language Impossible?”

Hardcore Quadrant Absolutism

Zen teacher and blogger Brad Warner is generating lively discussion on his post “Racism Isn’t the Problem” published on Hardcore Zen. But does he succeed in shedding light on racism?

The post’s headline is intentionally provocative and doesn’t reveal the author’s actual beliefs, which he later says to be “Racism is real. Racism is a problem. It’s just not the root problem.”

Warner traces the crux of the problem to human nature, specifically its “pack” mentality owing to our social nature. He was brought up to be anything but racist, and even so deeply held prejudices and fears arose in him when he sat on the zen cushion.

“I wanted to deny the garbage was in there,” he writes, “but the harder I tried, the fiercer it fought back.”

He concludes, “If you want to really eradicate racism, you have to disappear completely… Racism is not the root problem. You are the root problem.”

Some commenters on the post reminded Brad that racism “refers to systemic and institutional power structures not individual prejudices. And by that definition, racism IS the problem.” (This is partly true. Good point.)

Justlui says “What’s tough about what I think Brad is saying here is that almost nobody on the planet can actually approach ending racism through emptiness. So unfortunately, Brad probably sounds crazy to most people.” (This too is partly true.)

Continue reading “Hardcore Quadrant Absolutism”