The State of the Integral Enterprise. Part 2: Potential Traps

November 11, 2009

The State of the Integral Enterprise. Part 2: Potential Traps
Roger Walsh and Ken Wilber

Written by Corey W. deVos

At the 2009 Integral Theory conference, Roger Walsh led a presentation titled The State of the Integral Enterprise, offering a critical appraisal of the “Integral movement:” where it is, where it’s going, and what kinds of obstacles stand in the way.  For those who have been following the emergence of Integral perspectives and worldviews for any time at all, Roger’s presentation served as an important reminder that we need to live every day of our lives with the fullest authenticity, passion, and purpose.

In the first installation of Roger and Ken’s discussion, Current Status, Roger gave a realistic summary of the condition of the Integral movement today.  In short, his observation is this: it is still coalescing, still trying to find enough traction to grow from a “cognitive minority” to a viable force in the academic and cultural mainstream.  Though we can already see signs of this occurring around us, it is a slow and organic process and cannot be hurried by any artificial means.

That said, there are certainly things you can do to help: learn the integral tools – like Integral Life Practice – that can help you live an extraordinary and whole life and that will help you take broader and more encompassing perspectives in every domain you touch.  Obviously this can be a sometimes painful path beset with its own breed of lions and tigers and bears (oh my!).  In this installation, titled Potential Traps, Roger outlines some of the afflictions common to Integral living—including complacency and stagnation in our growth, shadow games and ego posturing, developmental allergies and aversions, and the dangers of when our knowledge and conceptual understanding begins to outpace our wisdom, experience, and insight.

(On a personal note, I have been working with Ken Wilber, Integral Institute, and Integral Life for over six years, and have been a vigorous student of Integral theory and practice for more than twice as long.  As I was editing this dialogue and listening to Roger’s laundry list of possible pathologies, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had fallen into almost every single trap at one point or another—many of which I continue to fall into today.  As such, Roger’s presentation offered a much-needed shot across the bow for my own growth, practice, and personal embodiment of the Integral vision—awakening me to many of my own missteps and misgivings, while provoking me to deepen my own practice and recommit myself to my work, my relationships, and my art.)

One of the extraordinary qualities of integral consciousness is the ability to simultaneously challenge yourself to be something greater than who you are, while loving yourself exactly as you are.  If we can muster the strength and compassion to be both completely honest with ourselves and kind to ourselves, not only can each of these traps eventually be overcome but they can be seen for what they actually are: stepping stones that can take us from our potential to our purpose, from our brokenness to our wholeness, from our fragile humanity to our unbreakable divinity.

The second part of his article, Key Ideas for a World at Risk, will be available next month.  Here Roger shifts his attention from helping us look at ourselves as a community to helping us engage with the world as people leading integral lives. He offers an interesting set of ideas (e.g., perspectival range) and practices (e.g., transforming motivation) to support each of us in responding to global crises. Stay tuned!

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