teens-at-computers-by-new-world-laser-tag-flickrstreamThere was a series of posts on this blog in 2007 concerning Steve Pavlina, Julian Walker, and a few other Integrally informed folks about The Secret (a.k.a., the Law of Attraction). Coming late but ever welcome is a comment by Joe Camosy.

Sorry to be coming so late to this topic! Having skimmed the past discussion, one thought occurs to me. Everyone seems to be psychologizing the person who presented ?the Secret?, but what about a real analysis of the theories behind the secret itself? I?ve also done some internet searching and I don?t see any really serious attempt to do this. Here is my hypothesis: IF ?the secret? is talking about certain valid principles (the particular use of attention, memory, imagery, reason, etc?) they where are they going wrong? Are they applying valid principles to the exclusively lower levels of development (magenta, red, blue, etc..) ? If so, then would not a valid critique show the true nature of these principles and their wider range of application to the other levels as well (orange, green, turquoise)? On the other hand, if the principles themselves are incorrect or too broad, or conflated, etc? then a valid critique of the theory would be to break down the process into it?s more accurate steps, stages, principles, etc? and then show a more healthy and effective way to apply these to manifest one?s intentions. However, I see a problem in doing this from an ?Integral? perspective, largely due to a lack of a sufficiently robust ?typeology?. I see typeology as the weakest arm of Integral theory. Joe

I’m not sure exactly what Joe means by “typology,” though if he is using Type in the same sense as Ken Wilber, then I’m not sure that that’s really the area where more attention most needs to be paid. So I added this comment:

Joe, I completely agree with you that much more attention needs to be paid to the use of attention, memory, visualizations, and so forth by the practitioners of The Secret and other New Age spiritual practices. Certain quarters of the ?Integral community? tend to dismiss such things as bunk because they don?t think the ?I create my own reality? school of thought passes muster, that it?s all pre-rational, magical thinking. There?s certainly that perspective out there and at the time this conversation started I was not so interested in criticizing it. Today, I would say things differently and offer a more compassionate and appreciative view of The Secret while holding a critical distance from some of the wild claims. Thank you for chiming in, however late, and if this is a topic that interests then I hope you?ll stay tuned to this blog as I will be revisiting the topic in the weeks ahead.

I’m looking forward to going into this topic in more depth because a key part of my spiritual explorations in the past several years has been looking at the relationship between linguistics, ego development, synchronicity, and magical / shamanistic / prophetic experience.

What I’ve noticed is that the more attention we pay to the production of speech in the body, the evolution or historical transformations of language, and the ways that symbolic reasoning constructs awareness itself (i.e., non-symbolic consciousness), the more we realize that the world looks extraordinarily different than we realized. And the more we try to create rules to distinguish between what exactly is pre-rational, what is rational, and what is trans-rational (as in Integral Theory’s “pre/trans fallacy”), the more we get into “fuzzy” territory that starts be more interested in what is simply non-rational.

The new article “The Secret Language Code” originally printed in Scientific American is only the tip of a vast icebert. James Pennebaker, chair of the department of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, gives a terrific intrview … but if you’ve been paying attention to researchers in ego-development over the past 10 or 20 years, Pennebaker seems to be coming late to the party.

Science is figuring out that language is a Pandora’s Box of secrets, and before psychologizing or ridiculing the Law of Attraction folks, I would pause to consider that what we don’t know about the power of language far exceeds our knowledge. Integral thought can benefit from continuing to theorize about the relationship between language, mind, and unexplained phenomena.

Photo Credit: New World Laser Tag

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  1. Joe,

    Thanks for responding to my comments. For now, I’d like to just briefly explain what I see as the connection between the underlying principles behind “the secret” and the field of typology as used in Integral Theory.

    As explained in the book “The Integral Vision” by Ken Wilber we have: “Types simply refers to items that can be present at virtually any stage or state. On common typology, for example, is the Myers-Briggs (whose main types are feeling, thinking, sensing, and intuiting). You can be any of those types at virtually any stage of development.” These kind of ‘horizontal typologies’ can be very useful, especially when combined with levels, lines, and states. To show what is involved, we can use ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ as one example of types.” [pg 45]

    My main point here is that within Integral Theory, other maps or models of reality, psyche or spirit, which do not replicate quadrants, levels, and lines, and which can coexist with AQAL automatically fall within the area of “Types.”

    Some examples of types could include models of reality which focus on gender, others could focus on universal principles, laws, and outcomes, others might try to explain the static and dynamic workings of the human psyche, etc… It was my observation that this field of study was the least developed in Integral theory. I hesitate to guess why this might be so, but one reason could be that other “traditions” have already developed a huge amount of theory and material in this area, and it could be a dicey proposition to sort out and classify the many existing typologies in the world today.

    For example, it would be a daunting task to evaluate systems and traditions as diverse as Tibetan Buddhism, the Kabbalah, the Hindu pantheon, esoteric/mystical Christianity, Analytical Psychology, Alchemy, etc… and come up with a common language or evaluative method which gives them all an honored place at the table. Yes, Wilber has attempted this within the AQAL model, by addressing the quadrants, levels, and lines of these traditions, but for their typologies, he basically “punted” by providing examples of only the simplest and least controversial of types.

    Yet, given the task, I can hardly blame him. It would be a massive undertaking, but this is what’s truly necessary if one is going to try and really understand something like “the secret” on it’s own terms and in context of humanities’ highest understanding of reality.

    Looked at from the point of view of typology, “the secret” and what they’re calling “the law of attraction” is really their understanding of the process of manifestation on a personal level. In other words, they’re attempting to answer the question of “how to I go from a thought, wish, or desire in my head, to actually manifesting that thing in my physical world?” This process involves certain universal principles which (if they really are universal) will exist on all quadrants, levels, and lines.

    I don’t want to write a book right now so I’ll just start give an example of one principle – the principle of attention – giving our attention to one thing and not another. It should be obvious that if we want to be or do or obtain or manifest “X”, that we will need to direct our attention to “X” and also to those steps required to obtain it. We have to focus ourselves and not get too distracted with other things, etc…

    So, does the principle of attention quality as a “type” in Integral theory? Can this principle co-exist with AQAL?

    “Attention” through the Quadrants:
    UL (interior) A person in their interior state can be in a state of focused attention such as in meditation.
    UR (exterior singular): The principle of attention can exist in nature such as in a focused laser beam, or a stroke of lightning.
    LR (exterior plural): Attention in a system – an ant colony where the various members attend to and interact with each other.
    LL (interior plural-cultural): The primary focus or thing that different societies attend to, and what different societies consider to be distractions – things not worthy to pay attention to, etc…

    I hope the above brief demonstration demonstrates that indeed principles can fall into the realm of “type.”

    Best Regards,

    Joe Camosy

    • Just a quick add. I also note that Integral Theory does talk about the process of manifestation in the area of microgeny.

      From “Integral Psychology”, by Ken Wiber pg 251:

      “Not all processes in consciousness are “bottom up”; many are “top down” – that is many start at my present level (or higher) and move down the great holarchy. Whn I have a creative vision (e.g., psychic level), I might translate that vision downward into vision-logic , or perhaps artistic expression, or even into simple images and symbols; I might execute my vision by beginning to convert it into overt behavior and thus materialize the vision; perhaps a new invention, a new piece of architecture, a new way to interact with others, writing a novel, and so on. In microgenetic evolution, processes move up to the higheest that you are; in microgenetic involution, the highest you are moves down into lower processes. Both of these are very important; and they represent a sliding scale: the more you develop, the fuller the range through which both can move, until, with nondual awakening, they can literally move throughout the Kosmos.”

      What’s needed is an Integral Semiotic and Microgenetic analysis of “the secret” and of the symbol systems of other traditions.


      • Joe, I hear you. I’ve been intrigued very much by the idea of a meta-symbolic system and know I’m not the only one. I’ve made a fair degree of progress on my meta-symbolic ordering system, which morphed into the Lingua-U language of subtle energy. I’ll be writing about it more on this blog in the months ahead, so keep coming back.

        If you have an interest in this area, I encourage you to keep moving forward in your research and efforts at thinking the various problems through. There’s plenty of research and theorizing to be done in Integral Semiotics, and we’ve just scratched the surface.


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