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"But the Divine is in his essence infinite and his manifestation too is multitudinously infinite. If that is so, it is not likely that our true integral perfection in being and in nature can come by one kind of realisation alone; it must combine many different strands of divine experience. It cannot be reached by the exclusive pursuit of a single line of identity till that is raised to its absolute; it must harmonise many aspects of the Infinite. An integral consciousness with a multiform dynamic experience is essential for the complete transformation of our nature."
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, p.114

The Historical Development of the Integral Paradigm

Initial comments

In describing the Integral Paradigm, it is necessary to distinguish two very different ways in which the word "integral" is used,

First there is the original definition regarding divinisation, as found in the life and teachings of the 19th century Tamil siddha Ramalingam (who did not use the term "integral") and the 20th century Integral realizers Sri Aurobindo and Mirra.

Then there is the late 20th / early 21st century Postmaterialistic definition, as found in he current Integral Community inspired by Ken Wilber and others. This is totally exoteric, non-gnostic, intellectually inspired by developmental psychology and social theory, postmodernism, and no0n-dual Eastern philosophy, and has no conceotion of occult or metaphysical realities. Nevertheless it does draw some small inspiration from Sri Aurobindo philosophy and psychology

My own gnostic emphasis is towards divinisation rather than mere postmaterialism, but I do acknowledge the importance and necessity of the latter as a precursor to the collective manifestation of the former.

Basic Themes

Some common themes of the Integral Paradigm might be:

Having said this, we can consider some historical trends:

Phase I - Precursors - Jainism, Rumi, Ramakrishna


The central themes of the Integral Paradigm - the manysidedness of Reality (and imperfect and partial nature of all human formulations), the theme of dynamic spiritual evolution and progress, the theme of cosmic transformation (central to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's teachings) and the synthesis of disparate yogas and transcendent revelations, can be found in various spiritual and esoteric teachings.

These include Jainism (anekantavada or manysidedness, e.g. the metaphor of the Blind Men and the Elephant), Rumi (Spiritual Evolution from stone to angel and beyond), Isaac Luria (cosmic transformation), and Ramakrishna (external link integral synthesis of yogas)

I would also add the ethical stance of Sentientism, which has still to be realised in the present, anthropocentrically biased current Integral Movement, and which dates back to Jainism at least. Thus in at least two respects, Jainism was the original Integral philosophy

Gandhi, who was strongly influenced by Jainism, reconciled these two themes of manysidedness and sentientism

Phase IIa - Integral Yoga - the Ramalingam - Aurobindo-Mirra Tradition


The culmination of Tamil Siddhas, Vedantic and Tantric philosophy and Western evolutionary thinking and Kabbalistic occultism, led to thw establishment of the Divine Body on a cosmic level and what is on even the very limited human level still to this day the most inclusive and all-encompassing philosophy and teaching ever proposed. It is a yoga of profound transmutation of the individual and of the world.

It was also Sri Aurobindo who coined the term "Integral" in this contex; see The Synthesis of Yoga, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press. This book was first published in serial form in the journal Arya, from 1914 and 1921. It was revised several times in the 30s, 30s and 40s (see Biographical Notes to the Pondicherry edition). This is the earliest mention of "integral" in a spiritual context.

As used originally by Sri Aurobindo, "integral" referred to his own Integral or Purna ("Full" or "Complete) Yoga, which involves the transformation of the entire being, rather than simply a single faculty such as the intellect or emotions or physical body, and which has as its goal the Supramental Transformation. Later, Indra Sen, a follower of Sri Aurobindo, presented a more limited description of his metaphysical and occult tecahings as they pertain to Psychology, this became "Integral Psychology" (note that this latter word now has a number of other, non-aurobindonian meanings - e.g. Wilberian, etc)

Ramalingam (Siddha / Sentientism) - Sri Aurobindo and the Mother (Integral Yoga - Integral psychology - Supramentalisation)

Selected Links:

external link Sri Aurobindo Ashram - this site includes collected works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and the works of some disciples, which can be read online.

blogosphere Science, Culture and Integral Yoga (intelligent Aurobindonian blog with comments on social issues, although sometimes a bit too dry and intellectual for my tastes)

Phase IIb - Continental Evolutionism and Process theory

Of mention here - although philosophical rather than yogic, is Goethe, German Idealism, German 19th century Naturephilosophie, which was one of the sources of Darwinian evolution, Henri Bergson (Creative Evolution), and the Wikipedia link process philosophy of Whitehead. Hassidic philosopher Wikipedia link Martin Buber's Wikipedia link I-Thou theology can also be mentioned; there are parallels between Buber's and Whitehead's Wikipedia link Personalism.

Goethe was a source of inspiration not only for German Idealism and Naturephilosophie, but for Rudolf Steiner. whose Anthroposophy integrated Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Christian mysticism, and Goetheanism.

Phase IIc - Russian Cosmism and Transhumanism

Also less profoundly yogic than the Integral Yoga tradition, but still not to be dismissed, the Russian connection is twofold, but stems from Russian Orthodox Christianity, which in turn embodies the Wikipedia link Sophia tradition, and hence the parallel with Sri Aurobindo's spiritual teachings (via Tantra and Ramakrishna) of the Divine Mother (Supreme Shakti). It is twofold. First the Integral Wikipedia link (sobornost) philosophy of Vladimir Solovyov. Second and unrelated, the pdf file Russian Cosmism of Wikipedia link Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov and others, which influenced Vladimir Vernadsky, who in turn exerted a huge influence on the Christian evolutionist Teilhard de Chardin, as did Bergson. Cosmism and Teilhardism were both precursors to Transhumanism (the materialistic concept of a Technological Singularity.

Phase IIIa - Teilhard de Chardin and evolutionary theology


Of all the philosophers of the West, Teilhard de Chardin is the one whose visionary worldview most approaches that of Sri Aurobindo, regarding cosmic evolution culminating in a state of Divinization (which he called the Omega Point), although the two never knew of each other's work. His ideas are nowhere as profound though; for example he still is stuck in the old idea of transcending matter, which indicates he does not have the Supramental revelation of the greatest Tamil Siddhas, Sri Aurobindo and Mirra. But certainly he was an important an original gnostic (my definition, not the dualistic movement). His book The Phenomenon of Man is a classic work of Integarl philosophy.

Teilhard established a new way of looking at evolution, as well as contributing to an integral and transformative synthesis (not just eclectic superimposition) of science and religion. There is a tradition of Teilhardism among scientists in the West, including palaeontologist Simon Conway Morris, who emphasise teleology in all but name. My only gripe with the Teilhardians is that I find them (and Teilhard) way too anthropocentric.

Phase IIIb - Jean Gebser and a historical phenomenology of culture and consciousness


Gebser is another influential figure regarding the Integral paradigm. I'm not sure when he started using the term, although it was after Sri Aurobindo did. His opus Ursprung und Gegenwart (The Ever-Present Origin), was published in various editions from 1949 to 1953.

Phase IIIc - Integral Science and Humanism

Worth mentioning here is the "Unified Science" of Edward Haskell and coworkers; and the Cosmic Humanism of Oliver Reiser (external link essay here) which constitute original and universal evolutionary theories of everything, embracing both sciences and humanities, but now almost totally forgotten.

Phase IVa The Human Potential / Holistic / New Age Movement


The New Age has its roots on the one hand in Theosophy, via Alice Bailey and the Bailey-inspired "I-Am movement" of the 1920s and 30s, Abraham Maslow's Humanistic Psychology, the Esalen and The Human Potential movements of the 1960s (with people like Michael Murphy (influenced by Sri Aurobindo) and George Leonard, who would later develop Integral Transformative Practice as a reaction to the chaos of the early Esalen approach, and the pop Gurus of the East. It represents a wide-ranging and informal revival of non-religious spirituality in the West, and has much to offer, despite its unfortunate commercialism and frequent superficiality.

Phase IVb Haridas Chauduri and the California Institute of Integral Studies


Integral psychology was developed by Indra Sen (with a number of papers beginning in the early 1940s; following the orthodox Aurobindonian line) and Haridas Chauduri (in the 1970s, he gave his own interpretation). This was long before Ken Wilber started using "Integral" to define his own worldview in Wilber-IV and now Wilber-V . See this paper:

Shirazi, Bahman (2001) "Integral psychology, metaphors and processes of personal integration", Cornelissen, Matthijs (Ed.) ''Consciousness and Its Transformation'', Pondicherry: SAICE online at for the history of Integral Psychology.

external link The California Institute of Integral Studies is an accredited institution of higher learning and research that strives to embody spirit, intellect, and wisdom. (The faculty includes among others Stan Grof - one of the most important new paradigm / transpersonal psychology thinkers). It was established by Haridas Chauduri, a student of Sri Aurobindo's teachings.

"Since its founding in 1968, the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco has become recognized worldwide as a unique leader in higher education. While preparing students to work in the areas of psychology, religion, philosophy, and the humanities, the Institute also cultivates qualities graduates will need as leaders of transformative change in their professional work and in society. This is accomplished through a commitment to the reunification of the body, mind, and spirit -- an embodied integration of the intellectual and the spiritual. The Institute's values foster cultural diversity as well as cultural coherence, multiple ways of knowing, spiritual practices, a sense of community rooted in our common humanity, feminist ideals, and sustainability. We are an accredited graduate school offering M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Humanities, Counseling Psychology, East-West Psychology, Cultural Anthropology and Social Transformation. Our faculty provides students an opportunity to work closely with leading scholars and researchers in their fields."

For what is wrong with the CIIS, see below

Phase IVc - The Evolutionaries (Epic of Evolution)


Teilhard de Chardin (and in some cases Transhumanism as well) influenced the Great Story/New Story/Epic of Evolution/Global Mindshift evolutionary eco-pantheists such as Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Peter Russell, and many others. All propose a secular evolutionary metaphysic, with emphasis on evolutionary science and social and environmental activism.

Phase IVd - The Wilberian-inspired Integral Community


Ken Wilber, another advocate of yet another Integral worldview, was influenced by both Sri Aurobindo and Gebser, and must certainly have derived the term Integral from one or perhaps even both of them, because in Integral Psychology he includes both of them in his list of integral thinkers. Moreover, both Aurobindonian and Gebserian themes are evident as far back as Wilber-II (in Link to Amazon com The Atman Project and Link to Amazon com Up From Eden respectively)

As used by Ken Wilber, the word "Integral" refers to his own "Theory of Everything" intellectual worldview and teachings, which are considered by himself and his followers to be of the "Turquois" memetic evolutionary level (or vMEME, in the Spiral Dynamics system, which is a non-Dawkinsian definition - see the more common use of "meme") and hence "Second Tier" and universall inclusive. In the Wilber-Beck system, this is seen as more inclusive and evolved than all the preceeding blue (fundamentalist), orange (power seeking), green (note here Wilber's attack on eco-philosophy) and yellow (scientific secular modernity) vMEMEs, which are considred to be "lower tier".

Wilber seems originally to have based his definition on that of Wikipedia link Jean Gebser who proposed that human consciousness evolves in an ascending series from archaic through magical, mythical, mental, to the aperspective and finally the integral. The current "integral movement" is very much the result of Wilber's tireless (and so far not very successful) efforts at getting this larger paradigm accepted by the postmodernist and sceptical mainstream academia.

Web Site Integral Institute Integral Naked Integral University - based on the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber. I am greatful to Wilber for his grand if flawed attempt at a big picture universal synthesis of everything, for that has inspiring me to work on my own books, to get right what he got wrong. I have however soured to Wilber since originally listing these links; external link here's why. Nevertheless I find his followers to be very sincere and decent people, with a lot of genuine good will. Unfortunately the organisation as a whole tends to lack gnosis; too much mental and not enough spiritual insight. blog Too much philosophy (theory) and not enough teaching (practice). This lack of authentic spirituality is one of the things that inspired me to suggest an alternative blog Gnostic Community. The blog Wilberian initiative however has a potent outreach, especially in relation to Aurobindonian Integral Yoga, although hopefully this will change with initiatives from the Aurobindonian side such as external link AUM 2007. It has inspired (Wilberian/PostWilberian) websites like external link Integral Visioning (including the Integral Encyclopedia Wiki - an open-source collaborative encyclopedia dedicated to discovering, inventing and exemplifying new ways to include and integrate a multiplicity of ideas, articles and discussions, from a wide range of integral perspectives)

Not many people realise that Wilberian external link Integral Theory has very little in common with the Aurobindonian tradition of Integral Yoga, except that both propose an evolutionary cosmology and point to higher states of consciousness. Actually has much more in common with the Epic of Evolution/Conscious Evolution stream, both representing an exoteric evolutionary spirituality. Wilber's advantage over the Conscious Evolutionaries however is his multi-perspectival approach; although this is the same idea that had already independently been formulated by the Jains (Anekantaveda) and by Mahatma Gandhi, and Wikipedia link was also proposed by Nietzche. Wilber (whose influences include Eastern nondualism, developmental psychology, postmodernism, and spiral dynamics) respects Sri Aurobindo but doesn't understand him. Wilber exerted a strong influence on Andrew Cohen, who combines Wilberian and Epic of Evolution themes. Also of mention here is Don Beck (Spiral Dynamics Integral) who broke with his former co-worker Chris Cowan over Wilberian Integralism.

In contrast to the epic of evolution people, many of whom are qualified scientists and science educationalists, the folks in the Wilber, Beck, or Cohen camp don't seem to have much grounding in the hard sciences. Wilber himself flounders when he tries to understand evolution, and external link his claims that Darwinism cannot sufficiently explain evolution indicate a lack of scientific understanding on his part (note: this caused Wilber to blog page come up with a reply that, for a non-groupie like myself, only confirmed the original doubts). Wilber is on record as preferring Intelligent Design (neo-Creationism!). It is disappointing, but perhaps not surprising, to find that even Esbjorn-Hargen's and Zimmerman's scholarly and impressibely researched Integral Ecology dismisses evolutionary science with a few curt sentences. Since these people seem to confuse Darwinism with materialism, I would suggest that Teilhard's Phenomenon of Man be top of their reading list!

Conversely, while strong on hard science, the Teilhard-inspired Conscious Evolutionaries are weaker at exploring the psychological and perspectival; that is where the Wilberians shine. And of course both camps flunk when it comes to metaphysics, esotericism, and gnosis. That's where the Perennialists are good. So each represents a partial perspective.

Ken Wilber - Some thoughts on Wilber and his movement

external link Integral Multiplex - Integral Institute

Phase IVe - The Participatory Movement


The Participatory movement - includes Participitary epistemology, Participitary spirituality, etc. They reject authoritarianism and old hierarchical models. John Heron, Richard Tarnas, Jorge Ferrer, and Michel Bauwens (p2p) are representative.

Phase V - The Emerging Integral Paradigm

The Integral Meme:

Geneology of the Integral Meme

The above diagram, from my essay external link Redefining Integral, traces the geneology of the "integral" meme (use of the word "integral" in a spiritual context)

Although I have previously often used the term "Integral movement", I don't think one can speak of an Integral movement as such. Rather there are a number of very different advocates, of different evolutionary and all-inclusive philosophies or worldview that draw on a number of common themes

Representatives of the mainstream Wilberian movement would identify "Integral" with Wilberian theory and praxis. Seen this way, all non-Wilberian Integral theorists and practitioners can be construed as Wilber critics that constitute a fringe minority with little or nothing original to say, beyond disagreement with orthodox Wilberism. But just because Wilberians represent the majority in America, that doesn't mean that Integral = Ken. If you go to India you will find, in contrast, that Integral equals Aurobindo. In Europe, Integral may well equal Gebser. An integral movement has to be global, it cannot be merely Americocentric.

The Conscious Evolutionaries and the Integral Community are, along with the New Age and Cultural Creatives, part of a global shift in consciousness, part of the planetary transformation. The Integral Community itself is simply one tiny stream in this larger process.

Schools within the Integral Movement (comments I write three years ago, my ideas have changed since then)

external link Redefining Integral my essay that expands blogosphere an earlier essay at Integral Praxis the above themes and adds many more - on Integral World

blogosphere Going beyond Wilber's enclosure of the Integral Commons - Michel Bauwens' (peer to peer advocate) critique of the Wilberian movement (blog post 5th June 2009)

Wikipedia link The Integral Movement (formerly Integral Thought) - Wikipedia

Currently, I am working on my book The Integral Paradigm, which brings together esoteric and gnostic, sentientist, Darwinian/Teilhardian/epic of evolution, perspectival/integral community, Aurobindonian/Integral Yoga, and other such themes ina universal metaphysical framework. It will hopefully provide a new/alternative integral perspective that will incorporate both science and esotericism. It will also go beyond both the standard alternative "universe story" and wilberian integral theory, also showing how all these perspectives fit in the bigger picture of an Integral Divine Transformation. The spiritual path, spiritual transformation, requires of course not just theory, but practice. The book will include theory (as well as some autobiographical material) but point the way to practice.

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page by M.Alan Kazlev. This page is based on comment at Open Integral - Original URL
page written 25 December 2006 but wasn't uploaded, updated page with material from Integral Worldview (merged page, originally uplaoded 9 November 2005), NewCiv page, and old Integral index page (25 June 2004 to 26 July 2009). This page uploaded 21 July 2009, last modified 1g February 2010