The New Magick Does Not Stand Alone. It Is Integrally Integrated.

integralMagic-logo-smallThe New Magick Offers A Constructed Kosmology In Which Space, Time, and Thought Are Depicted Harmoniously 

As we have seen on The Integral Cauldron, the Integral Magic™ philosophy posits a cosmology of a sort never-before-seen: one which doesn’t just describe the world as a given (“That’s just the way it is!”), as pre-modern and modern worldviews tend to do, but as a “magical” world of Art-Science which is aligned (constructed) with Unique Will. Postmodernism isn’t really interested in constructing a magical world; for the most part it is content with destroying or trivializing the magical connections others make.

In the New Magick, the act of creating the new cosmology is part of the whole picture, and part of the magic itself, an act of consciousness developed at a refined level of ego-maturity which is capable of appreciating “world creation”. Integral Magic offers a worldview in which everything is connected to every other thing, all things are whole/parts (or “holons” as they were called by Arthur Koestler) and analogies may be freely made between one whole/part and another whole/part, and guidance and wisdom received freely. Spirituality pertains to invisible realms again, not just psychological phenomena. Acausal connections are normalized and synchronicity ceases to be aberrant.

What does Integral Magic look like? I have a very specific proposal to advance for your consideration in The Integral Cauldron blog and The Kalendar Series of books. There is a long story regarding how I got here, and why I have made the creative choices that I have made, but they aren’t really important right now. What is important is that I have developed a magical system which I believe to be meta-modern or post-post-modern if you will have it. I have done this with a key opening move: tracing the essence of all magic down to its roots in two sources: language on the one hand and number on the other.

With language, there is the question of which one to base it on? But I submit that any effort to base Integral Magic on a specific language is doomed to failure; thus I have chosen instead to base it mostly on the sound symbolism of the International Phonetic Alphabet, the cross-linguistic universal generalizations which have defined the essential capabilities for virtually all recorded languages. To connect the symbols of IPA with number, I have found that the ternary numbering system is ideally suited for representing a very large number of vowels and consonants (the number base in which the numbers of 0, 1, and 2 represent all possible values). Indeed, when the numbers are represented in simple line glyphs, the first 12 symbols correlate to all the most popular vowel sounds, and the next 27 symbols can be taken to represent all the most widely used consonant sounds.

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Meet Ken Wilber at Success 3.0

Ken-WilberAs you may know, I will soon be visiting Boulder, Colorado to attend the Success 3.0 Summit which is bringing together key thought leaders together to explore the impact that can be made by collaborating together and redefining success.

Among the folks who I am most looking forward to seeing is my friend Ken Wilber.  Owing to his health, I’m not sure whether he will appear by video or in-person, but either way is good. His bio as it appears on the site:

According to Jack Crittenden Ph.D., author of Beyond Individualism, “the twenty-first century literally has three choices: Aristotle, Nietzsche, or Ken Wilber.” If you haven’t already heard of him, Ken Wilber is one of the most important philosophers in the world today. He is the most widely translated academic writer in America, with 25 books translated into some 30 foreign languages. Ken Wilber currently lives in Denver, Colorado, and is still active as a philosopher, author, and teacher, with all of his major publications still in print.

Tony Schwartz, the president, founder, and CEO of The Energy Project, and the author of What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America, has referred to Wilber as “the most comprehensive philosophical thinker of our times.” Roger Walsh M.D., Ph.D., the well-known professor of Psychiatry, Philosophy and Anthropology at UCI’s College of Medicine, believes “Ken Wilber is one of the greatest philosophers of this century and arguably the greatest theoretical psychologist of all time.” And in commenting on the scope and impact of Ken Wilber’s philosophy Mitchell Kapor, founder of Lotus Development, and the co-founder of Electronic Frontier Foundation, mentions that “After reading Wilber, it is impossible to imagine looking at the world the same way again”.

What makes Ken Wilber especially relevant in today’s world is that he is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”. As Wilber himself puts it: “I’d like to think of it as one of the first believable world philosophies…” Incorporating cultural studies, anthropology, systems theory, developmental psychology, biology, and spirituality — it has been applied in fields as diverse as ecology, sustainability, psychotherapy, psychiatry, education, business, medicine, politics, sports and art.

Wilber explains the need for an Integral Approach in the following way: In our current post-modern world, we possess an abundance of methodologies and practices belonging to a multitude of fields and knowledge traditions. What is utterly lacking however, is a coherent organization, and coordination, of all these various practices, as well as, their respective data-sets. What is needed is an approach that moves beyond this indiscriminate eclectic-pluralism, to an “Integral Methodological Pluralism”, aimed at enriching and deepening every field through an understanding of exactly how and where each one fits in relation to all the others.

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On misunderstandings

Many common misunderstandings are the result of clashes between different personality types (Mars and Venus, Aries and Cancer, etc.) Other misunderstandings are the result of clashes of psychological structure, level, or stage. Here’s a quote from Ken Wilber on these latter sorts of misunderstandings (from Excerpt D from the Kosmos trilogy):

Me and my blue interiors belong to the local Lion’s Club; you and your yellow interiors belong to the local Integral Institute. We have already seen that this means that you and I share interior culture up to the level of blue; and thus we can converse within a meaningful “we” up to the blue level of discourse, because the signs and tokens that we exchange will have similar-enough referents up to the blue worldspace (and thus we will share a cultural solidarity up to that point). But greenand yellow symbols, words, and signs will be “all Greek” to me; their referents are literally over my head, and therefore although I can hear their signifiers they have no real meaning for me. I am inside no “we” such that my intersections are internal to the patterns of those phenomenological spaces. I literally cannot see what you are talking about. Your yellow values include a worldcentric or global ecological consciousness; my blue values do not. We live in the same ecosystem, but only one of us has ecological awareness….

 

Me and my blue interior can read the book Spiral Dynamics, and I can memorize the descriptions and definitions of all the major structures and vMemes. I can memorize the words and signifiers that define beige, purple, red, blue, orange, green, yellow, and turquoise. If you ask me to describe turquoise, I might be able to do so perfectly. Does that mean that I am at the turquoise level or structure of development? Not at all. “Structures,” as we were saying, are third-person descriptions (in “it” language) of first-person realities, and therefore I can memorize the descriptions without actually being acquainted with those realities. I have access to these “its” by description, but I only have access to the corresponding “I” realities if I myself transform to those levels, stages, or structures and thus know those realities by acquaintance.

As I wrote in “I blog, therefore I lie,”I have defined the intended audience of this blog in a way to minimize disruptions from cross-meme misunderstandings.

So when a conservative religionist, say, Danielle, tells me that she thinks I’m going to hell because the Bible says God hates queers, I know better than to attempt a discourse that’s “over her head.” Of course, I’m familiar enough with the rote arguments about the Bible and homosexuality that I could take my time to respond as effectively as possible at her level of sophistication. But I choose not to. Thankfully, there are plenty of other people who can regurgitate the same old arguments with Danielle and perhaps help to stretch or raise her consciousness. Growth is possible for Danielle, but it’s not up to me to get her to grow or set the time-frame for her evolution. Heck, she can stay stuck where she is, projecting her hatred of queers onto God and all that, and that really doesn’t disturb me much, just so she isn’t in a position of social or political influence. Then she needs to be countered, and not just by quoting liberal interpretations of the Bible, but countered by effective arguments and strategies at multiple levels.

Living with a STEAM-based practice in the real world involves doing some rather dicey balancing acts. It means realizing that a full, real, embodied awareness of the existence of sexism, heterosexism, and homophobia does not exist in a stable and enduring fashion in the interiors until an individual has reached a pluralistic level of consciousness or higher. With this insight, it’s possible to grow in forgiveness and tolerance even of the intolerant. It’s harder to forgive an anti-gay tirade when you think you’re talking to another Hitler. But if you see Danielle’s tirades as baby-talk, and see her more like a baby than like Hitler, forgiveness and right understanding are easier. Even if the baby needs to be spanked, it still needs love. Of course, telling Danielle that hers is baby-talk probably won’t win her friendship. Anyone got a problem with that? If you’re timid about losing a friend, keep your thoughts to yourself. I don’t care. I didn’t say you have to tell Danielle any of your assessments of her relative level of consciousness, though if you do, you should try to do so with a loving spirit. How would a fundamentalist put it? “Love the immature person, hate the immaturity?”

I don’t worry about whether I hurt a fundamentalist’s feelings. And if they’re hurt, perhaps it will be a spur to growth, who can say. As I wrote earlier on this blog, religious conservatives are not my target audience. I’m more worried about the message that I send to people in a green worldspace if they hear that integral/STEAM is so “evolved” that now they need to tell anti-gay bigots that “everyone’s right,” and that to fight homophobia they should meditate, do nothing, and let Spirit take care of everything. Such a message, based on misunderstandings, would lead to an immediate dismissal of integral thought and practice among the group that is most likely to appropriate a new and higher way of thinking. And that would be a disaster. To avoid such miscommunications, my rhetorical strategy is aimed at reach my target audience (largely those at the pluralistic and integral levels) which isn’t necessarily the person who I am responding to. I’m not talking merely about tailoring my message to the audience that I’m speaking to; I’m talking about talking on point to my intended audience, and resisting efforts by my actual audience to pull me off the message.

So with Danielle and other fundamentalists, it’s possible to devise more effective strategies for containing the harm when they decide to take up political arms to foist their religion-based heterosexism on the rest of us. And it’s possible to choose to refrain from dialogue with unsuitable debate partners, thus avoiding the inevitable cross-meme misunderstandings and the harm and bad karma that may consequently arise. The most compassionate response to potential debate partners pounding on your door with some sort of fundamentalist tract is not to welcome them in. Shoo them away instead! Some things are better left unsaid.

Getting clear on the definition for integral

Here’s the new template boilerplate for this blog:

STEAM is a systematic way of thinking, an interconnected mode of being, and a comprehensive model for transformations of self, culture, and world… it’s about being authentic to your life’s purpose, embracing the ineffable and ever-present Oneness of Being and realizing ever expanding degrees of compassion and love… some call this approach integral or AQAL; others call it second-tier or post-postmodernism… I call it STEAM-powered living, and this blog is all about rising up to realize our true nature.

A careful reader will notice that I’ve de-emphasized “integral” in this statement of my blog’s mission. Why? I’ve decided that integral is too vague for some of my needs, so I’m taking a closer look at the ways that I’m describing my approach to writing this blog.

Here are some common questions that arise as a result of the vagueness of integral talk, stated as generically as possible: Is such and such integral? Is this or that something an integral person would say or do? How do you know if such and such is really integral?

Defining integral is an important step in being able to have meaningful conversations about such questions. At least the dictionary definition is clear: integral means “composed of integral parts; lacking nothing essential.” If anything’s got the essentials, it’s integral.

Today integral is a word that’s getting a heavy burden placed on it by many people. As I see it, today there are a large and growing number of systematic and evolutionary thinkers in many disciplines whose work is pointing towards new ways of thinking that have many broad, overlapping similarities. Different thinkers describe those connections in different ways.

The most comprehensive thinker that I know who has charted those similarities and differences is Ken Wilber. But his theories (written in over twenty books) require a depth of study that few people have the time or inclination for; and even among those sympathetic to Wilber’s approach, there are differences of opinion about precisely what is and isn’t really integral. Integral is not only an intellectual position, it is an embodied movement in personal, cultural, and socio-political development. As such, it is embodied at many different levels of self-consciousness.

“Ken Wilber doesn’t own integral,” as someone recently said on an online forum. True enough, however that’s like saying that Hegel didn’t own German idealism or that Freud didn’t own psychoanalysis. It seems silly to have to rebut the notion that any individual can own such a vast movement as integral, and yet it is sometimes necessary. Wilber himself has made similar observations many times. However, Ken Wilber and Integral Institute have recently taken steps to protect the intellectual property associated with a particular variety of integral theory and practice techniques. Thus, they have been using the trademark symbol on such words as AQAL™, an acronym short for “all quadrants, all levels…” To me that sounds like it’s probably a prudent step. I’m not a lawyer, but from where I stand as a writer it’s actually quite helpful in distinguishing between flavors of integral. There’s generic integral or second-tier consciousness or post-postmodernism, and then there’s Ken Wilber’s version of integral: AQAL. (Actually, you can probably just say “Ken Wilber’s version of integral” and be generally understood.)

Every spiritual teacher, philosopher, or writer who is bold or stupid enough to call their work integral could have their own integral approach that says “this is how I’ve fleshed out the details,” and nobody need ever get confused. If a controversy arose as to whether Joe Blow’s work is integral, at the very least you’ve got a benchmark that allows you to say, “Well, it may or may not be integral, but it’s definitely AQAL-compliant.”

My own approach to integral has been to follow the AQAL model in a broad sort of way, and then fill in the details as they come to me out of my own life practice, observations, and writing. Since May 2005, I’ve been using the acronym STEAM to describe the contours of my approach (it’s short for stages, types, experiences, angles, and modes). If AQAL is like an operating system, then STEAM is intended to be an AQAL-compliant application.

Why bother making these sorts of fine distinctions? Just to get a little more clarity. If I write some juicy nugget such as “Integral means never having to say you’re sorry,” I don’t really want to get into back and forth about whether that’s really true about some mythical beast that somebody else is calling integral. Pretty soon nobody’s talking about the importance of apologies and everyone’s debating the definition of integral (and that gets way tiresome). I think it’s better to simply talk about my approach and ideas and relate them to a systematic model (that is, STEAM) in a way that lets readers separately consider the validity of both my point regarding the subject matter at hand and the systematic model. If I were to say, for example, “STEAM-powered living means never having to say you’re sorry,” then right or wrong, at least the conversation can stay focused on what I’m saying, not on the matter of defining integral.