Friday, August 04, 2006

Selves Authentic

From an interview in WIE with Ken Wilber--on a question regarding the status of Andrew Cohen's description of the Authentic Self and whether or not it qualifies as a new "state" or "spiritual" experience.

Ken's reply (emphasis mine):

I think the authentic self that Andrew describes is a combination of a nondual state and a third-tier stage (indigo or higher). It is in part a state because individuals at several different stages have access to it. But it is not just a state, because states of consciousness are exclusive. You cannot be drunk and sober at the same time; you cannot be in the dream state and formless state at the same time; and so on. States don’t usually show development, which is why they are fragmentary, no matter how “whole” they might feel at the time.

Structures or stages, on the other hand, are inclusionary. Like all developmental holons, they transcend and include their predecessors (e.g., cells transcend and include molecules, which transcend and include atoms; likewise, orange transcends and includes amber, which transcends and includes red, etc.).

This is why I think the authentic self experience is a combination of both. At its fullest, it is a nondual state (because subject and object are one), and yet it is not really genuine until at least an integral or turquoise stage is reached, and doesn’t really blossom until third tier. The “evolutionary” component is simply the aspect that comes from the turquoise (or higher) stage components, because only at those stages does holarchical evolution enter the picture in terms of consciousness understanding.

So, in my opinion, it is neither a state nor a stage, but what is experienced when, at the turquoise stage (or higher), one is also in a nondual state. The combination is experienced as: being one with the manifest world, and grounded in nondual Emptiness, one is also deeply moved and ecstatically driven to be part of evolution by directly contributing to it.

To the degree that integral can help fill out interpretation, it is only a rational reconstruction of trans-rational realities. In other words, it's only so good. It is a rational reconstruction (or rational mediation if you like), that means it by definition is NOT the thing described. It is not and never will be trans-rational. Still, it can have an important function. There are bad and good versions of rational reconstructions of the trans-rational and it is mightily important we get that down. Otherwise "spiritual" people will talk about how none of this reconstructing matters because it is not the thing described. Ok, fine, that's fine, but everyone is going to hold a reconstruction-interpretation, why not have the best one possible? There's just about nothing dumber, in my book, then people who use the "it's all spiritual the mental doesn't cover it" excuse for being intellectual nitwits. That frame, by the way, is a mental frame, just so they know.

And I have said here and elsewhere that I do think Wilber's post-metaphysics is the only future for this kind of endeavor (intellectually, mentally, interpretatively).

Integral, depending on the person and instruments involved, covers yellow, turquoise, or indigo. Yellow, the cleansing of the spiral; turquoise the creation of an actual integral worldspace; and indigo being the lived awareness of multi-perspectival worldscapes in real time.

So notice that when Ken says that the Authentic Self is a nondual state with a 3rd-tier (at least indigo, more like violet) stage he is saying integral (as yellow/early turquoise) can only be a rational reconstruction of that third-tier reality.

Which again is totally fine; doesn't mean integral can't help or even point out missing elements, but as these layers continue to shake out and settle, the differences and limitations of each will become clearer.

Recall the insight that the greater the depth (the higher the height) the less the span. The most important work for the majority of the world and for the future of humanity is orange. ORANGE. Let that sink in. The primary goal politically-economically-culturally for the next century is to bring the majority of the world into a worldcentric, orange, modernist orientation. Minus that with increased technological innovation, smaller and smaller numbers of humans will be able to inflict greater and greater lethality.

Right now terrorists can not. The 9/11 attacks killed 3,000 people,which is tragically sad. 40,000 people (mostly kids) die every day from hunger related illness. 40,000 every day versus 3,000 once. I'm not saying that as some denigration of the dead or their grieving families, just to point out that terrorism right now is more media-driven, more hype than substance. Of course they can do damage, but right now the technology does not allow them the kind of kill-ratio efficiency they desire.

But that will change and sooner than we think. Particulary with bio and nano-tech on the horizon. And minus a truly worldcentric (as in basically every country on the planet) netting major disasters loom. Minus that kind of consensus-built netting, the danger in the other end is governmental enforcement from above--as in V for Vendetta among others.

But that orange has to be done from yellow (ideally) or else it will just be a further instantiation of MOM, dis-eased naive orange. The Iraq War is a vision of orange projects minus yellow cognition.

So any discussion of yellow-turquoise-indigo-violet has to be placed in multiple contexts simultaneously. Just going "violet" would require one to live in a monastic elite setting, because the span is so little. That's an important job, someone has to do it (and some are, I think, sorta?) but those people shouldn't be fooled into thinking how quickly some massive change/transformation is on the horizon. Because it ain't.

I'm more and more into the idea of just saying what we are doing and living with the strengths and limitations of those choices.

I'm actually deeply drawn at different points to the authentic self. Although I know there is no place for it rationally-politically in the world, which is why I write mostly from a turquoise point of view.

But I have experienced what Ken rationally reconstructed. At least glimpses (indigo, violet?). Of course it looks nothing like a stale, reconstruction, but the reconstruction, is accurate nonetheless.

When there have been discussions of Andrew, WIE, Foxhollow in integral circles, they are from people who, to me, show no exposure to the practice of Enlightened Communication (EC). I'm not taking a position on Andrew as a human, as a spiritual teacher, the community, all of those can be what they are....I just have a rule that one shouldn't criticize a thinker/group until one has experienced the best of what they have to offer, then criticize away (because by knowing the good you clearly understand what is the bad).

EC begins with some basic guidelines.

The guidelines are basically to follow what is happening in and between the group in any moment, instead of falling back into a prior patterned set of perspectives, however brilliant or insightful they may be----just for the time of the injunction. Use them when necessary outside the EC time. But for the moment of practice, just do the practice and see what happens.

As people begin to speak, a shared space emerges. The words here are very flimsy. People often refer to it as everyone having "One Mind". I can understand the sentiment, there are moments when you "know" what someone is about to say before they say it--or it is as if someone says something that is spot on and you were thinking as they said it and you know somehow that everyone else was thinking it too. It's weird, sounds sci-fi or whatever I know, but it does happen. Or don't believe me, try it and see if I'm full of s..t.

But One Mind isn't really right--and here is where an integral reconstruction could help.

The primordial perspectives-quadrants exist all the way up and down. Even in a third-tier nondual experience there is still the arising of self and other, just that one is identifying with the ground from whcih they co-arise AND the force by which they arise (new). So as anyone who has gone through this procedure knows, you can still identify with your subjective thought-stream and "fall out" of the group experience.

Hence the admonision to stay attentive to what is happening in the group-dynamic. If it were truly ONE MIND then there would be no free will, no choice to be in or out. And again anyone who is deeply familiar with the space knows, it is painfully clear by demeanor, look, and word who is in and out. And people flip back and forth all the time during the practice.

Otherwise, ONE MIND is spiritual totalitarianism. The WE would subsume the I in a fascist-monadic oneness. But thankfully this is not the case.

Better thought of as ONE NETWORK. What is interior to the intersubjective is the history of shared agreement, mutuality and feeling. SHARED. It is history of interor communication. That is why this space can be (and is) accessed by different people everywhere, why people who have no background just get it fairly quickly.

It is ONE NETWORK--but not in the sense of some pre-set Aurobindo-like Supermind that just descends and is already totally put together and we all just experience it together. And then gaze at it in wonder. "It" actually needs "us" and nowhere ex-ists seperate from the embodied consciousnesses that choose to involve themselves in it.

As integral theory maintains, the individual is a member of a collective, not a part. The individual's communication-speech acts are part of the collective, their own agency is not. Unless they choose to give, part or all of it, to the collective. Which again raises the issue of properly balancing this profoundly strong experience with judicious subjectivity, lest it do indeed become totalitarian.

Robert Kiyoaski, father of Rich Dad Poor Dad once said that entrepreneurs who understood the mentality of the rich were almost one with the pure engine of capitalism (orange--Gates, Buffett, Soros). I like that image of the pure engine.

The authentic self accessed through EC (indigo/violet plus NONDUAL) is like being in touch with the pure engine of creation/manifestation. Not just the great Witness/Atman/Pure SELF but that SELF in motion, the transformation vehicle.

But the experience is deeply liberating. The more so because others are in-volved in it with you.
The state is open to anyone and there still is great beauty in experiencing "it" with others--but as Ken says it does not really "kick in" until a little further up (at least cognitively?) the scale. It is frankly quite difficult not to get a little spiritual high/addicted to the thing. At least for me. It is just so unlike, in my experience, any other practices/experiences.

That's its danger too of course, but still it is profound to experience the Nondual intersubjectively with the added dimension of the inherent desire to create. But that desire is intense and can easily run amok--especially if one is not resting (during the push) deeply in the Ground and with a developed self-sense (stages) and intelligence about the world.

There can be pre-trans fallacies at every level (or tier I guess). Much of what some might call 3rd-tier, which is non-integral is not trans-integral but pre-integral. Just as integral is to be trans-relativist, some of what people claim is integral is pre-relativist.

And even that is allright, the stages need to be built and they have to work out the kinks. Just no finality to everything.

And notice he did say a 3rd-tier stage with a Nondual State. The Nondual State is as important as the Stage. The Stage minus the State will be, like anything else good and bad. There will be "evil" 3rd-tier people. There will be an "Mean Indigo Meme". Lest we fall into the trap of absolutizing a stage (even a stage and a state) by saying that everything will become nothing but sweetness and light once a so-called authentic self is awakened. But again that is part and parcel I think of how hard anything is in this world, to get anyone to be involved, you have to create this hype. People won't break ground that will be necessary for later total integration, it seems, unless they are convinced their's is the only and all-redeeming path.

Not to mention lines. Nobody is 12-lining violet. And between indigio and violet in the future will likely emerge multiple sub-stages, so this is all really open-ended. Plus stages are nothing but mental probability waves/demarcations of finding certain actions, energy patterns, or thoughts-experiences within a piece of the Kosmos. Just 3rd person pointers are the notion of stages.

I point all that out to bring a sense of spaciousness and humor/ok-ness to the whole venture, instead of immediate grasping clutching, ego-games about who is the highest, whose king of the evolutionary mountain, and what not. Be where you need to be.

And just remember the Absolute trumps all this (from a state point of view): there is only sacrifice, nothing to attain, even as one climbs the mountain of relativity.

But there is a deeper issue involved I think. Post-metaphysical spirituality opens up the possibilty of a new meaning to and need for the spiritual path.

One way to summarize the spiritual traditions is the following

Stage 1: Immanence-only (Paganism, indigenous religion). The motivation here was to be one with the manifest worlds. Flowing with and praising it. But to what greater purpose--what if one is simpy flowing with oppression and war, poverty and hatred?

Stage 2: Transcendent-only. The manifest world as realm of illusion and sin. A desire of freedom and escape from the wheel of suffering and death. A prophetic thrust against injustice, acts of mercy and kindness, a desire for human community that transcends local-exclusivist tribal identities. But still a deep ambivalence (even hatred of) this world and participation in it.

Stage 3 and 4: Nonduality (3=Plotinus, Nagarjuna, 4=Schelling, Aurobindo). These two traditions unite the paths of ascent and descent and teach that eternity is awakening in the present. The kingdom of Heaven on earth; Formless and Form as One, etc.

The paths of the Bodhisattva who spends time awakening all, joyously for they are always already awake (though inattentive to this) and the Tantric-Siddhi one who "plays' with all manifestation as display of Original Radiance.

Stage 4 brought the knowledge that this Nondual vision was developing through time, but like Stage 3 was conceived to have been completely set from the beginning.

There is deep beauty and truth to all these paths. But the question still reamins to all of them---why are we here? What is the point of life, what is the point of spiritual awakening in this world? Is it simply to get out? To disappear in some blissful isolated vision? Is it to try and hasten the destruction, conflagration of manifestation?

What is the point?

The criticism by post-metaphysics is that since the traditions felt that the entire spiritual architcture was already set, it left no room for deep participation, for deep embodiment. For a purpose to our participation. A pre-set architecture doesn't require us.

And one could argue that that is exactly the point---we are not needed. We shouldn't be worried about our needing to have value in the life process. Fair enough. But the need here I speak of is not some narcissistic selfish immature need. It is a deeper need that only arises--as Ken argued--at a certain stage in an expanded state.

This "need" brings a greater responsibility and burden. Egocentric needs do not.

I'm only saying a post-metaphysical construct opens up a sliver of meaning of our place in manifestation. That the spiritual path be transcendentally this-worldly, that it be awakening, holding the space of freedom (traditional nonduality) while deeply invovled in manifestation, and understanding our constituitive of the fabric of the Kosmos.

And therefore, our actions, our spiritual path must deeply include the intersubjective. In a way more profound than we have ever realized to date in our spiritual traditions. The main thesis of Integral Spiritualty is that there are no intersubjective spiritual paths. That the spiritual traditions have not answered the call of the postmodern world.

An intersubjectivity that is more than simply the poeple I meditate with or go to church with or help do good works with in the world. A spiritual path that includes practices that take as their starting point our very connectedness and immersing ourselves in that connectedness and finding an engine, a drive within that connectedness and seeing where it leads, what emerges, what can be created in such a space. Rather than all of us meditating individually in a room and seeing what happens almost as an accident of that initial practice---that can be kept and has its place but no longer exclusively.

Any path that does not begin to incorporate intersubjective yogas will continue to lose ground and become less and less relevant in the future.

It is a radical claim, one that is denied by both secular postmodernists and religious traditionalists (even many a Nondual one). Again the desire does not arise until a certain worldspace, prior to that explicating the need to someone (no matter what their state-stage depth) will not come across. It's just foreign.

It calls for a radical bracketing of the question of being spiritual in this life having some relation to an afterlife. It DOES NOT assume there is no such thing as an afterlife, bardo, heaven/hell, whatever. [A later post to come contra Frank Visser on this point]. It simply states that those are elements beyond our ability to prove/disprove in this world and we choose to focus instead on the elements of the spiritual life that we can exhibit in this life (states, state-stages), can help co-construct (stages) and leave the rest to God.

It deeply calls into question for all of us how much of our desire to be spiritual is really a desire to get a payoff after death or to be recognized as enlightened in this one. I think most of us would cringe to realize how deeply and unconsciously we are wedded to such a need.

But we need not fall into the error of our own brilliance either. If post-metaphysics, as I'm arguing is the 5th "Wheel" there will be others. The 6th Stage will realize I'm sure some new construct that will put perspectives, post-metaphysics, etc. in a new, relativized light. It will show that co-creation, the authentic self, and evolutionary incarnational spirituality is one slice of some bigger wilder pie.

Having perspective on our perspectives is an important thing.

We should do what we can do and leave the rest to be.


At 2:53 AM, Blogger timbomb said...


That was a blast. Thank you so much, Chris, for your current "must blog more integrally" jag. We're all benefitting.

I'm send as many people as I can to watch.


At 4:07 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

thanks brother.

i really appreciate the positive feedback (or feedback for that matter)--otherwise I really have no clue whether anybody is diggin' any of this.



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