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The Wilberian-inspired Integral Community

(the "Integral Movement")

Within the history of Integral thought, the Integral Community springs from the voluminous writings of Ken Wilber, although there is disagreement over whether the Movement itself is identical with his belief system, and those of his supporters and co-workers, like Don Beck (Spiral Dynamics) and Andrew Cohen (Evolutionary Enlightenment), or whether "the Integral movement is bigger than Ken" as someone who posted on one of the forums said.

At it's narrowest (although this is a common and perhaps the official position; need to find ref in What is Enlightenment) "integral", "turquois" (Spiral Dynamics), and "second tier" (ditto) are all synonms, and in turn are equivalent to Wilber IV / AQAL/Wilber V "Post-metaphysical" AQAL. This is the position that "Integral = Ken Wilber". It constitutes a new philosophical school or meme-set, in the tradition of charismatic spiritual teachers of all ages, in which an articulate, brilliant, and popular figure would arise, and gather a following around him- or her-self. After the teacher passes on, their teaching remains through books and organisations dedicated to perpetuating that teaching; although without the brilliant light of the Founder, things generally become pretty stultifying, and there is often little or no original development. Even so, the books themselves continue to inspire, and many people benefit greatly from these tecahings, and can contact the original Light of the founders to be inspired by them on the subtle planes. Some late 19th, 20th, and early 21st century examples of such teachers, known and less well-known, are Blavatsky, Theon, Steiner, Aurobindo, Gurdjieff, Crowley, Alice Bailey, Carl Jung, Ann Ree Colton, and now Ken Wilber. Also, many popular gurus belong in this category. It could plausibly be suggested that the founders of the great world religions started out no different, but their teaching really caught on n a big way.

A serious concern that has been raised regarding the current Integral movement is the commercialisation and charging of exhorbiant rates. For example, external link Integral Life Practice, for a five day workshop: $2595. This does not include transportation, accomodation, and meals. Limited to 50 places. Assuming all are taken, this means 50 x $2595 = $129,750, a tidy amount for a single workshop. This was being promoted on Integral Naked. (For more on Integral Institute and Integral Naked see the links section below). Similar examples of gross commercialism can be found in the retreats given by external link Genpo Roshi (Big Mind) who external link charges $50,000 for an exclusive five days retreat (that's ten thousand dollars per day per person. Amazingly, this is justified by at least some people in the Integral Community. This shows a disturbing and ugly influence of tehw orst of American capitalism, combined with a naivity and willingness to be conned by seekers who lack sufficient discrimination (and self esteem?). For me, this is just another example of guru abuse (i.e. financial exploitation)

In contrast, compare, where all their books are free online. Or where again all their books are available for free download, and more too. All the Theosophical writings of Blavatsky are available online for free as well.

Michel Bauwens comments on the deleterious effect of money in the integral movement in his critique of Wilber.

Can the Integral Community go beyond doctrinalism and commercialism, and provide something broader, that can contribute to a new and future emerging, ecologically and spiritually sane society? I believe that it can, but one has to distinguish then between "Wilberism" (the current integral movement) and Integralism in the broad sense, which would include both wilberian, postwilberian, and non-wilberian perspectives (see the links section below for a definition of these terms, and associated websites and projects).

At its broadest then, the Integral Community includes not only Wilber but those he cites as his influences and hold universal and evolutionary views or teachings, as well as those who, while influenced by him also differ somewhat, and even those like Arthur M Young that Wilber has apparently never heard of. Nevertheless, all share a common, evolutionary, "theory of everything" position, and, whilst they may differ on many details and even on many major points, taken together they could be considered a wave front for a new paradigm, a memetic revolution. I use the term Daimon of the Integral Movement to refer to the spiritual being or personality of light that is behind and working through this broader movement.

Now, this doesn't mean that this daimon is necessarily a negative entity. I see a lot of promise, a lot of potential, in the Integral Approach. From what I feel at the moment, the Integral Deva is a force and power of good.

But, as with any new spiritual or evolutionary development, there is duality, in that there are forces that hinder and oppose and distort, as well as forces that help and aid in the evolution and ultimate divinisation of the Earth and the cosmos. Thus even where a guru does give in the dark side (as very often happens with many gurus today) there still remains an element of Mixed Light that remains (one finds this ambiguity with Sai Baba, with Da Free John, and with Rajneesh); and we find this same ambiguity with the Integral Community regarding what seems to me a certain offputting devotional attitude towards Wilber himself. The light will find its way, regardless. However, an Intregral Movement that is caught up in worship of and obedience to an authority figure, will not be able to achieve what a movement unfettered by such shackles could.


Orthodox Wilberian

By "Orthodox Wilberian" I mean the indentification of Ken Wilber's and Don Beck's teachings with the Integral Community, and generally seeing Ken as the greatest philosopher of our time (if you think I am being sarcastic there, check out some of the statements on the Integral Naked forum).

Web Site Ken Wilber On-line - Wilber's home page, lists his books and has some on-line essays.

Website Spiral Dynamics Integral - website of Wilber's co-worker Don Beck, whose ideas have been incoporated into Wilberian orthodoxy (and vice versa). Beck and his former coworker Chris Cowan have fallen out over Wilber, and the original meaning of Spiral Dynamics

Website Integral Institute - a think-tank Wilber founded, Wikipedia link wiki page. See also external link Integral University - Wilber's university; the curriculum all revolves around his own writings and philosophy, especially AQAL.

Andrew Cohen

Web site Andrew Cohen - home page - although based around the teachings and personality of Andrew Cohen, Cohen himself follows the orthodox Wilberian line. See also external link What Is Enlightenment? Magazine (now EnlightenNext), which Cohen edits. This includes a lot of excellent material. Established in the 1990s Andrew Cohen and associates, it began including articles related to integral philsophy around 2000. The magazine itself is not specifically Orthodox Wilberian, although you won't find any criticism of Wilber there either, and every issue includes a Cohen-Wilber interview.

Non-fundamentalist Wilberian and Post-Wilberian

By "Post-Wilberian" I mean that at one time these individuals and websites were associated with Wilber, but have since broken with him out of disillusionment with his personality or the limitations of his teachings. They still identify with the term Integral. Thus the Post-Wilberians continue the lineage that began with Da Free John. It goes as follows: From Da to Wilber and Sanuel Bonder, from Wilber and Beck (Orthodox Wilberian) to the post-Wilberians.

Website Integral World - website maintained by Wilber biographer, now critic Wikipedia link Frank Visser includes well-written essays by both supporters and critics, originally mainstream Wilberian, but also includes a more diverse range of essays and interprations of Integral thought.

Blog Integral Options Cafe - William Harryman's blog offers a place to discuss things related to an integral worldview. Posts will deal with Buddhism, Ken Wilber, Spiral Dynamics, psychology, poetry, and Integral Theory. Bill invites comments, different points of view, and anything that can add to a civil discussion of Buddhist and integral ideas.

blog The Integral Research Group Post-Wilberian blogs - Integral Praxis and Integral Flow - Post-Wilberian explorations of Integral. The multi-authored Integral Flow didn't last long, but continues to provides a diverse range of essays and links to all apsects of the Wilberian/Post-Wilberian Integral Movement.

external link Integral Theory Conference - about the biennial (every two years) Integral Theory Conference held at JFK University; the first one was held in 2008. Mostly base don Wilberian premises, but may be open to alternatives

Wilberian and Post-Wilberian forums

Following a brief flurry of activity, these seem to have all died down. It happened to Integral Naked, to Integrative Spirituality, to Open Integral, and Open Source Integral; basically the mainstream Integral Community, with its cultic Wilberian elements, is limited to Wilber worship, Wilber commentary, and Wilber crioticosm, and a few postwilberian musings. Once these are exausted, there is nowhere to go and nothing to do.

Website Integral Naked - funky web site, features multimedia interviews, discussion forum, etc. Very "New Paradigm" Californian :-) While you won't find interviews with people who disagree with Wilber. The majority of the people on the discussion forums seem to be pretty uncritical in their devotion to Wilber, with only occasional voices of dissent (i.e. a religious site). After a period of activity, the ciommunity seems to have died

Website Integral Visioning - while this website includes a lot of Wilberian material, the emphasis as shifted from the supportive to the critical; it can therefore be considerd post-Wilberian rather than Wilberian. Included here are some essays that have also been posted on Integral World, and external link an early version of my original New Integral Paradigm essay. There is also Wiki link a wiki, which a number of people including myself have contributed to.

Website Integrative & Integral Spirituality - while not officially associated with the Wilberian mainstream, this portal website nevertheless follows an orthodox and hierarchical Wilber-Beck paradigm. More mainstream than my own work, but still interesting. However the website is cluttered and the online community didn't develop, unlike Zaadz, a similar project that likewise began from a Wilberian origin but has become very successful, and also intellectually freer

Website Gaia formerly known as Zaadz, on-line community originally affiliated with the Integral Institute, but much more diverse than just Wilber-supporters alone. Following the takeover by Gaia com, the integralist impetus has dissappeared and it is pretty much standard New Age. Sure that is Integral in the broad sense, but I can no longer get interested. Although the forum is still going strong, the peopel I communicated in the past have for the most part moved elsewhere.

blog Open Integral Blog - at one time (in late 2006) it was hoped that this would be a post-Wilberian Blog for the Integral Community; as the impetus for this was actually Wilber's antagonistic behaviour to his critics; but the impetus faltered, other posters went elsewhere, and the blog now serves as Edward Berge's forum, basically Wilber + Derrida + Nagarjuna. Very academic, I find it dry, and notr in the slightest intersting. Indeed, I don't know why it is called "Integral" at all.

Website Open Source Integral is an online forum and community, established by the Integral Research Group. Features a wide range of topics and discussion in relation to Integral thought, although mostly limited to the Wilberian approach. After some activity the energy seems to have disappated; very little happens on the forum now.

Generic and Non-Aligned

Includes a wide range of positions

Integral Diagrams - Slark flickr archiveIntegral Diagrams - very cool collection of diagrams, by Slark. Mostly Wilber-Spiral Dynamics (hence many variations on a few specific themes like AQAL and the Spiral Dynamics stages), but there are also a few others, including some of my own. If a picture's worth a thousand words, this has to be multi-volume work. Or maybe it's just because I've always loved cosmic diagrams that I love all this stuff

Wikipedia link Integral movement - a wide range of "integral" perspectives, on Wikipedia. This page follows the "Integral is bigger than Ken" position. Many thinkers listed on this page are not traditionally considered Integral. However if one assumes that "Integral = Aurobindo, Wilber, and everything that is shares elements in common with either or both" than they can indeed all be thought of in that manner

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page uploaded 4 November 2005, last modified 9 December 2009