The Need For Men’s Liberation
with Warren Farrell and Ken Wilber

Come on, let’s say it together: “Men are being oppressed.” It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it? It sort of sticks in the back of the throat, and we almost need to look around to make sure no one is listening before we say it out loud. In today’s academic and cultural climate, it’s not easy to make a point like this—the kindest reaction you might receive is a cynical eye-roll.

But really, why is it so difficult to admit that men could use a little help learning how to redefine themselves in today’s world, and how to “man up” in a new way to meet the challenges of our modern lives? Maybe it’s because our definitions for words like “oppression” and “power” are too limited, restricting our understanding of these dynamics to just a tiny shred of what’s actually going on beneath the surface of male/female relations. Just as our notions of “oppression” have often led us to perceive women as perennial victims, robbing them of a dignity they had never really been without, so do our notions of “power” keep our attention diverted from the very real issues men are dealing with today.

Instant Insights:

  • “Power” is not defined by the amount of control someone has over others, but the amount of control one has over his or her own life.
  • Feminism can be defined as freeing females from being coerced into traditional female roles, and the same work needs to be done by men.
  • Feminism did a great job of exploring issues of male power and female powerlessness, but not a great job at exploring issues of female power and male powerlessness.
  • In terms of recognizing and developing their power, men are in a similar position today as women were in the late 1950’s, at the dawn of the feminist movement.
  • As long as men do not rise to the challenge of redefining themselves for today’s world, women continue to be pressured to learn how to “row on both sides of the boat,” while men keep to their own side. The result? The boat just keeps going around in circles….
  • In order to succeed, men need to learn from the feminist movements of recent decades, and use their work as a jumping-off point—and not to hold feminism or women’s studies as an opposition to men’s liberation.
  • In order to take a truly comprehensive view of sex and gender, we need to look through at least four lenses: subjective/psychological (e.g. masculine vs. feminine), objective/biological (e.g. male vs. female), intersubjective/cultural (e.g. gender roles and definitions of “man” and “woman”), and interobjective/social (e.g. the techno-economic realities of the time).

“But men do have more power,” you might say, “just look at who is running the world!” A fair argument in some circles, but somewhat disingenuous when we take a closer look. For one, the amount of power men yield in economic and political spheres has very little impact upon the average guy in the street. And while it is certainly true that throughout history men have largely dominated the “public sphere”, it should be noted that the ratio of women in the workforce and the overall income gap between men and women is rapidly approaching some degree of balance.

But more than anything, this critique of men’s power (and powerlessness) is completely missing the mark—because power is not defined by the amount of control a person has over other people, but the amount of control one has over his or her own life. In this sense, women’s power is too often overlooked, while men have yet to fully come to terms with their own power, as they are still being primed from birth to equate “manhood” with “disposability.”

Men are constantly being locked into a single option—to excel in the “public sphere”, even to the point of breaking their own backs—with very little understanding or training around the “private sphere” options available to him. Meanwhile, men continue to place an unfair amount of cultural pressure upon women to pick up the slack in both spheres, without doing their own work to spend more time with the family, to develop their own emotional availability, to become a more involved father, and to focus on the interior realities of the home life.

We are looking for new role models, new behaviors, and new ways for men to define themselves. We are looking for a path beyond the merely macho, beyond the feminized 90’s guy, and beyond the disposable hero. The goal is not to neuter men or to neutralize the sexes—quite the contrary, we are trying to find a radically improved masculinity, as well as a radically improved femininity, honoring the very real power yielded by males and females alike in both public and private spheres. We are now discovering a new generation of men and women—newly integrated men and women who can see beyond the narrow definitions of gender that have been handed to us, fluent in both interior and exterior realities, and finding new ways for both sexes and both genders to show their love for themselves and one another.

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What Is Integral Art? Part 2: The “I” of the Beholder
with Ken Wilber and Elle Nicolai

Why is art so important? As Ken discusses in this clip, art and creativity represent an intrinsic dimension of human consciousness itself, and developing our aesthetic sensibilities is just as crucial as our moral maturity or expanding our scientific knowledge of the world. As such, artists play a very special role in our lives as interpreters of this present moment, preservers of our shared past, and arbiters of tomorrow’s unfolding. Historically it has often been the artists who have pushed our cultural edge forward the most profoundly, simply because they have a certain freedom of experimentation that most people in other vocations simply do not have.  As the leading edge of the world’s development is now Integral, we can begin to look to artists whose consciousness is integrally informed to offer us glimpses of a more sane and inclusive future, and help unearth the radical potentials that await us there….

Obama’s First Year: The Good, the Bad, and the Partial
with Ken Wilber, Diane Musho Hamilton, Robb Smith, Aaliyah Haqq, and Bert Parlee

After last week’s State of the Union Address, you may have been reflecting upon the past year of Obama’s presidency and asking yourself a few questions:

  • How did he do?
  • Am I feeling inspired?
  • Am I benefiting in any real way from Obama’s policies and his leadership?
  • Could Obama really be our first truly integral president, transcending and including the best of Democratic and Republican values?

We’ve been asking ourselves the same questions, and thought we would take a moment to offer our own integral assessment of President Obama’s first national State of the Union Address. So we posed these questions (and a handful of others) to Ken and a few other smart and savvy minds, who were kind enough to share five uniquely enlightening perspectives on Obama’s first year—the good, the bad, and the partial….

The End of Poverty. Part 1: Dignity in the Midst of Deficiency

with Martin Burt and Ken Wilber

It was impossible not to feel our hearts burst as we watched the aftermath of last week’s earthquake in Haiti.  We looked on with horror as an entire nation of people already on the edge of survival had their lives and their families stripped away from them. We sat helpless and heartbroken—praying, practicing, and breathing for the victims, trying to find a point of silence still enough to contain all this pain.

What we witnessed last week was tragic, and yet tragically inevitable.  Haiti is a nation without building codes and without a modern infrastructure, because Haiti is a nation without an economy.  It is truly maddening to know that there would have been far fewer deaths last week if Haiti hadn’t been so morbidly impoverished—it is worth noting that the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco registered a 6.9 on the Richter scale, and killed 63 people.  Last week’s earthquake in Haiti registered a 7.0, with a recent estimate of 200,000 casualties.

So what is really responsible for these deaths? Tectonic plates? Or poverty itself?

This is why we are so inspired by Martin Burt, whose Foundation Paraguay is one of the world’s most innovative micro-finance organizations, used now in 27 countries and modeled by 50 institutions.  Martin employs an explicitly integral approach to poverty elimination, using 200 different measures for poverty to finally solve poverty in both its interior and exterior dimensions.

Poverty, Martin reminds us, is not only an impoverished standard of material living, but also an insidious misconception about human beingness: that we only are only rich in spirit when we are rich in wealth.  This misconception, prominent among the world’s rich nations, paradoxically exacerbates the suffering of the world’s poor because it encourages partial approaches to poverty, as if merely giving them more “stuff” will cure the poverty of dignity that always and everywhere accompanies the absence of human self-sufficiency.

Some of us had the opportunity to listen to Martin talk with Ken a few months ago, and we were all blown away by his story. It wonderful to see Integral theory being applied in such concrete and practical ways around the world—but more importantly, it was invigorating to see it used in a way that is directly improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. After all, you can spend a lifetime learning all the very best philosophies in the world, but if it doesn’t actually help make this world a better place, it’s just empty words.

Poverty elimination lies at the core of the integral spiritual impulse. It is impossible to consider yourself truly “spiritual” without caring about the poor, without opening your heart to suffering in all its forms.  It’s important to remember that spirituality is more than a 1st-person experience—in order for our lives to be fully lived, we must allow our hearts to break open to the full suffering we are surrounded by, recognizing the basic human dignity reflected in every person’s eyes.  But it’s not enough to just feel it in the 1st person, or to open ourselves to love in the 2nd person—we must also act in the 3rd person, directly engaging the political, technological, and economic systems that continue to lock so many people into perpetual poverty, supporting the world with our wallets as much as we do our hearts.

Art, Consciousness, and God: The “I” of Beauty

with Ken Wilber and Elle Nicolai

Do you know what Integral Art is? Would you be able to recognize it if you saw it? Does a piece of art need to have some intrinsic spiritual component in order to be considered integral? And since the word “integral” is often synonymous with phrases like “a theory of everything,” wouldn’t that require each piece of integral art to cover all possible bases—including all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, and all types in the artwork itself?

In this interview Ken shines some light on these important questions, offering a simple coherent definition of Integral Art while explaining how it both includes and sets itself apart from every other artistic movement in history. If you are new to the integral aesthetic experience and are looking for a basic introduction to the major forms and functions of Integral Art, you will not want to miss this talk…!

Take a Moment

Perspectives on Beauty: Of course, there is much more to the Integral Art experience than just sitting back and taking it all in. We are more than just idle consumers of art—we are also the enactors of art, co-conspirators in Beauty’s unveiling. Our interpretations of beauty are therefore at least as important as our actual perceptions of beauty, and certainly indivisible from the whole of our experience. As such, we want to give you the tools needed to help you more deeply perceive and interpret the beauty that surrounds you.

Take a few moments to check out Michael Schwartz’s exquisite exploration Looking at the Overlooked as he guides us through some key perspectives to help deepen our experience of art, beauty, and the creative impulse.

Image: Griffin by Mark T. Smith

The Power of Premonitions. Part 2: Medical Miracles and the Non-Local Mind

with Larry Dossey and Ken Wilber

Have you ever had a powerful experience of intuition at one time or another in your life?  Perhaps you knew what someone was going to say right before they said it, or you had a dream that eventually came to reality.  Or maybe you have felt the electric thrill of being “in just the right place, at just the right time.”  Many (if not most) of us have had experiences like these, but find it difficult figuring out how to relate to them—or if they are actually real in the first place.  By their very nature, phenomena like premonitions, intuitions, and other paranormal experiences are so subjective, so slippery, and so hard to think critically about.  This has created a great deal of naivety on both sides of the psi divide between believers and skeptics alike, and has made it almost impossible to have an open, intelligent, and meaningful discussion of the topic.

Until now.

You are constantly being informed by your intuition.  At every moment, you are immersed in a field of subtle knowing—whether you know it or not.  And what’s really cool is that you can actually get better at it!  If you have ever been curious about the significance of these sorts of experiences, or wondered how you might be able to make yourself even more receptive to your own intuitive capacities, you do not want to miss this enthralling discussion!

Ken Wilber’s Personal Development

with Ken Wilber

After presenting his fascinating lecture on states of consciousness, stages of consciousness, and the three kinds of “self” (see the previous videos in this series), Ken is asked to report where he is in his own growth and development, what obstacles he has faced, and where he thinks his edge currently is.