[00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success with your host, Matt Bodnar.
[0:00:06.3] Announcer: Welcome to The Science of Success, with your host Matt Bodnar.
[0:00:12.6] MB: Welcome to The Science of Success. I’m your host, Matt Bodnar. I’m an entrepreneur and investor in Nashville, Tennessee and I’m obsessed with the mindset of success and the psychology of performance. I’ve read hundreds of books, conducted countless hours of research and study and I am going to take you on a journey into the human mind and what makes peak performers tick with the focus on always having our discussion rooted in psychological research and scientific fact, not opinion.
In this episode, we dig into a massive framework for answering some of the biggest questions in life. Ask if it’s possible to integrate 50,000 years of human knowledge into a single comprehensive map of reality. We look at the greatest good that a human being can achieve in their lives. We go deep on the path of waking up offered by thousands of years, hundreds of cultures, and with the clearest and most striking resemblances are on the different paths of enlighten. We discuss how to integrate and understand the connections between art, morality, and science, and much more with our guest, Ken Wilber.
The Science of Success continues to grow with more than 800,000 downloads, listeners in over 100 countries, hitting number one in New and Noteworthy, and more. I get listener comments and emails all the time asking me, “Matt, how do you organize and remember all this incredible information?” A lot of our listeners are curious about how I keep track of all the incredible knowledge I get from reading hundreds of books, interviewing amazing experts, listening to awesome podcast, and more.
Because of that, we’ve created an epic resource just for you; a detailed guide called How to Organize and Remember Everything. You can get it completely free by texting the word “smarter” to the number 44222. Again, it’s a guide we created called How to Organize and Remember Everything. All you have to do to get it is to text the word “smarter” to the number 44222 or go to scienceofsuccess.co and put in your email.
In our previous episode, we examined how mindfulness practices developed independently in cultures across the world, discuss how evolution shaped our brains to focus on survival instead of happiness and fulfillment. We ask what is success, how do we define it? What is the failure of success, and we go deep in how to practice self-compassion and much with Dr. Ronald Siegel. To learn proven strategies for mindfulness and self-compassion, listen to that episode.
Lastly, if you want to get all these incredible information, links, transcripts, everything we’re going to talk about in this show, be sure to check out our show notes. Just go to scienceofsuccess.co and hit the show notes button at the top.
[0:02:47.5] MB: Today, we have another exciting guest on the show, Ken Wilber. Ken is the founder of the Integral Institute which serves as a think tank aiming to synthesize all human experience and knowledge. He has been called the Einstein of consciousness and is the author of over 20 books with the focus on transpersonal psychology including A Brief History of Everything, The Integral Vision, and Sex, Ecology, Spirituality as well as many other books.
Ken, welcome to The Science of Success.
[0:03:14.0] KW: It’s great to be here. I’m a fan of the show. I’m delighted to be on.
[0:03:18.5] MB: We’re so excited to have you on today. For listeners who may not be familiar with you and your story, tell us a little bit about yourself.
[0:03:26.0] KW: Sure. I started out and went to — I’m a child of the 60s and so I tried — Was a product of that time. I also went to a standard university, started Duke University in medical program and then ended up switching to biochemistry and got graduate’s degrees on biochemistry. I found out that those really weren’t addressing the major questions that I had about my life, which are all the typical questions; who am I really and why am I here? What’s this all about? All of these kinds of silly questions. They were really urgent for me.
I began what turned out to be kind of a life-long quest and I ended up gathering eventually several hundred scholars from around the world and just looking at these fundamental issues and we wanted to make sure that we got as complete view of this as we could. We’ve really just put almost every approach that humans have ever come up with on a table and then try to look at all of the other and see if we could read some sort of conclusions, and that ended up producing what we call integral approach or integral meta-theory.
It turned out to have a fair amount of impact around the world and I think if nothing else, it showed people that we really can build bigger pictures that fit our knowledge disciplines together and we don’t just have to specialize and end up knowing more and more about less and less.
[0:05:01.4] MB: That’s a great kind of intro into sort of the very high level of integral theory, and I know it’s a massively, massively deep and expansive topic. For listeners who may not have read into it or read any of your books, how would you define integral theory and what are a few of these fundamental tenants?
[0:05:21.6] KW: Sure. One of the things that’s so interesting is as we started looking into all of the various areas, all the things that human beings have called knowledge going back 50,000 years. What was so surprising is how — What a vast and rich area it is. Really, how little most it is known, because some of the stuff turned out to be absolutely crucial.
We’ve been doing this, myself and a team of scholars have been looking at these issues for really about the past 40 years or so now. First, we just looked at all of the areas that human beings have investigated during, basically, their entire history on the planet; scientific, spiritual, historical, artistic, moral, psychological, cultural, and so on.
In other words, we looked at all the various maps of reality that humans have created during pre-modern times and modern times and post-modern times and we put them really several thousand major maps all on the table next to each other as it were. Then second we attempted to integrate them. That is we used all of them to fill in the gaps in any of them. The result was a really, really comprehensive map, a sort of super map if you will that really covered all or almost all of the major bases of humanities’ knowledge quest through the years. The results is what we ended up calling integral meta-theory.
What it did was try to identify the sort of crucial components of all of these many maps of reality that humans beings have created. This gave us a framework, what is usually just called the integral framework that includes these crucial central elements. These are the elements that you want to include if you want your approach to reality to really be inclusive, comprehensive, and touched most of the important bases. That sounds a little abstract right now, but I’ll actually give some specific examples in just one moment.
Then using this integral framework, we found that you could see many various ways that humans have approached their lives and their realities with different goals in mind. All of them have some degree of importance. They are all real. They all exist. Any of us right now can pursue any of them if we become aware of them, if we discover that they actually do exist.
For example, people can engage in what we call showing up, in cleaning up, in growing up, and in waking up, to just name a few. These all covered different areas of reality. Again, most people don’t even know these areas are there and that you can pursue them, but almost all of them have an absolutely direct bearing on your life as you’re living it right now and what you consider yourself, what you consider important, what you consider goals, or drives.
Again, what’s so amazing about all of these various areas is that most people are just completely unaware that they exist. Even knowledge experts who might know all about one of them are almost all totally ignorant about the others. It’s actually kind of alarming, because as we’ll see soon, each of these areas cover some truly crucial information about humans themselves and the realities that they have access to if they’re aware of them, that if we take an integral approach, of course, then we get all of these areas into account and this is why integral approach is to a topic or so sort of revolutionary as I’ll try to demonstrate. They are some of the first truly inclusive and comprehensive approaches to virtually any issue.
So far, over 60 human disciplines had been completely reinterpreted from an integral perspective. We have, for example, integral business, integral education, integral leadership, integral ecology, integral politics, integral therapy, integral art, integral spirituality, and so on, and each case, the results are just more satisfactory.
I thought one of the things we could do is just focus on two of these culture of an activity, what we’re calling waking up and growing up. Simply show what’s involved here with an integral approach so people can start to get a sense about what it means. These two activities are particularly interesting because they deal directly with human growth and development itself. If you take up any of these practices yourself in either growing up or waking up, it would be called a sort of self-improvement course.
In other words, do you want to bet at yourself? These two paths; waking up and growing up, are two of the most central, most significant and most important paths that humans beings have advanced anywhere. Yet, neither the average person nor the typical academic knows anything about either one of them. Again, it’s really astonishing.
We can maybe start with waking up and I’ll try to make very clear of what I mean here and I’ll give some experiential exercises so you can get a real sense about what this is talking about. This is a core path that we find going back at least 50,000 years to the earlier shamans and their vision quests. The idea itself is actually quite controversial and it has been controversial in almost every culture where it’s been introduced throughout history. It’s been that with fear, avoidance, resentment, aggression, violence. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of human beings have been murdered because of this topic.
The idea itself is quite simple; human beings are said to have at least two major but very different states of consciousness or states of being that they can inhabit. One is the typical, normal, everyday, conventional state or sense of self. This is often called the ego, or the separate-self sense. The idea is that what we usually take ourselves to be, each of us, is an egoic separate-self. We’re identified with this single individual biological body. It was born a particular time. It will exist for several decades, and then it will die, and that’s it. That’s pretty much all we are. Human beings come into life, exist a while, gather a few things, suffer enormously, then die, and that’s it.
Then humans are said also to have another state of being, or in a sense higher self. This self is actually one with all the existence, it’s one with the entire world, and its discovery marks a profound shift in consciousness and shift in identity from the skin encapsulated ego to an identity with spirit itself, or with the ground of all beings, the state of being one with literally the entire world.
Now, many writers say the leading edge science itself — the modern physics, and the system sciences — are making exactly this discovery, that every individual thing and event is actually interwoven with the entire universe in a seamless whole. It’s important to realize that this waking up is an actual and direct experience, not just an idea or a theory.
Historically, the discovery of this higher-self or this true self was called enlightenment, awakening, moksha, satori, metamorphosis of the supreme identity, the great liberation, and it was universally held to be the summum bonum; the greatest good that a human being could achieve, the ultimate answer to questions, like who am I and why am I here?
The pursuit of that path is what we call waking up. Waking up is a metaphor that’s widely used around the world with these traditions to try and indicate what this enlightenment experience is like. What’s like, it’s just as if you awakened from a dream and realize it wasn’t really real. To wake up in this life is to be awakened, enlightened, and to realize who and what you really are. You are not this illusory dream-like, separate and isolated ego-self. You’re actually interwoven with and directly one with the entire universe and all its many dimensions. Awakened from the dream, you are this supreme identity.
All of the goals, and of all of the goals around the world that humans have sought, this is probably the highest or the most ultimate and we’re starting to see an increased interest in this path in the West and we have, to some degree, since around the 60s when the introduction of the Eastern meditate traditions made the very existence of the path of waking up more obvious. As I said, there’s a strong interest nowadays in trying to show that leading edge sciences are reaching the same conclusion as these ancient paths of waking up.
As I’ll try to address, is there’s a grain of truth in that notion, but there’s also a kind of major glitch that stops it from being an alloyed truth. What is undeniably true is that of those people who have had this direct and immediate waking up satori, or enlightenment experience, well over 90% of them say that it's the most real, the most absolute experience that they've ever had and it showed them a reality whose existence that they simply couldn't deny. One the most recent got a fair amount of attention in the news, but it’s very typical, but the example Dr. Eben Alexander who's actually a neuroscientist from Harvard and he had this experience and call it “by far the most ultimately real I’ve ever had.”
That is kind of a generic introduction to what we call this path of waking up, and we do find them in cultures around the world going back, like I say, at least 50,000 years, they tended to drop off with the rise of the modern era and — To continue the discussion headed in that direction, I’ll give a brief explanation of why they tended to drop off in the modern era, and this actually has to do the other path we’re going to talk about which is called growing up.
To give an indication about what these waking up paths are actually like. In other words, what you experience when you have an enlightenment experience. What I'm going to do here is give a very simplified, a very shortened exercise that hopefully will give at least little experiential hint of what these paths are pointing to.
We mentioned that virtually all of the waking up paths make a distinction between the ordinary or typical self-big-ego or the separate self-sense and our true self, or real self, which actually reaches far beyond this individual organism and is one of the entire ground of all being itself. How we can get at least a little taste of what that means?
We can start by just having you simply describe inwardly what it is that you basically call this self of yours. Just or simply, who are you? Make a list of the things that you are. You might say, “My name is so and so. I’m this old. I weigh these many pounds. I’m this tall. I went to school here. I had this degree. I'm in a relationship now for five years. I don't have any kids. I work at this job. My hobbies are these. I drive this car. I like this kind of music, these types of books, “and so on and so on. That’s fine. You could go on and on like that.
Notice when you're doing that there are actually two selves involved, one is the self that you can see, the self that you are engaged as describing. The self that can be an object of awareness, but the other self is a self that’s doing the describe. The self that’s doing the seeing. It’s not a seeing self, it’s the seer, and the seer could no more sea itself than a tongue could taste itself or an eye could see itself.
What is this observing self? The real seer? Was is that? As you look for this true seer, this real self, you won't see anything. If you see anything, that's just another object, another scene. It’s not the real seer or the true subject or the real self. Rather, if you look for this real seer and you continually realize that anything can see is not it, is not the real seer, all you start to notice is a sense of vast freedom, a sense of almost complete release. It’s along the lines of I see that mountain, but I'm not that mountain. I'm free of it. I have these sensations but I'm not these sensation. I'm free of them. I have these feelings but I'm not these feelings. I'm free of them. I have these thoughts, but I’m not these thoughts. I'm free of them. I am what remains, a vast pure empty opening or clearing in which all these objects are arising and I'm free of all of them. I'm a pure witness. I’m a pure awareness itself. Not any content of awareness.
This is why the discovery of this radically free awareness is called the great liberation, or in Sanskrit moksha which means freedom. That this real self is just a sense of pure I am’ness. It’s not I am this, or I am that, that I am this body or I am this person, which is pure I am’ness before is identified with any object or thing. This I am’ness is radically free from the entire stream of time. It’s the pure witness which is aware of time, aware of a past, a present, and future, but it’s itself radically timeless. It lives in what's called, not the passing present, but the timeless president or the timeless now moment.
As Vichtenstein put it, if we take eternity to mean not everlasting temporal duration, but a moment without time, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Right, the timeless or eternal present, the now moment. This is exactly what Christ then, when he said, “Before Abraham was, I am.”
Zen has a famous Koan, which says, “Show me her original face,” original face means your true self, this real seer — “Show me your original face, the face you have before your parents were born.” That’s not a metaphor. That's not symbolically. They mean it literally and directly. Your true self, your original face, your real I am’ness is indeed timeless or eternal and so existed before your parents were born not because it existed in a time before your parents, but because it doesn't enter the stream of time at all. It exist in this timeless now, witnessing this present moment prior to the unfolding of time in the temporal stream entirely.
This I am’ness is an ever present or timeless reality. It’s always there whether you realize it or not. The great traditions actually maintain that this ever present I am’ness, this ongoing witness, is the only constant and always present experience that you’ll ever have. You probably can't remember exactly what you are doing at this time a week ago, but one thing is certain, your I am’ness was there. You probably can't remember what you were doing a year ago or a decade ago, but I am’ness was there still as an ever present changeless pure witness, empty of any content.
You can’t remember what you were doing before your parents were born either, but I am’ness is still timeless or eternal. In other words, I am’ness doesn't enter the stream of time and so it still is right now eternal or free of temporal duration as Wittgenstein pointed out, and every mystic the world over agrees with that.
You can't remember you were doing a century ago or a millennia ago, but that was just prior time is still prior to any of that time and so eternity is still eternity and this is why the true self is everywhere called unborn and undying. It’s unborn because it doesn't have a beginning in time. It’s ever present as. It’s undying because since it never entered the stream of time it never leaves it either. That is it never stops, it never dives. Unborn, undying.
If you really push into this ever present witness or true I am’ness, or timeless now, at some point you'll fully break into the real timeless now and your original face will become as obvious to you as clear sunlight on a summer day. That experience is what’s called enlightenment or awakening or satori, the great liberation, the supreme identity. Virtually everybody who's ever had this profound experience agrees that it is indeed the summum bonum, the supreme good of a human life.
That's the path of waking up and what we found as we were looking at all the maps, the territory of waking up that have been offered over thousands of years around the world by human beings and hundreds of different cultures, is that there is a great deal of similarity between these meditative maps.
Scholars such as Daniel P Brown and Dustin DiPerna have examined dozens and dozens of the various contemplative and meditative paths left by the various traditions. They found a striking degree of similarity in virtually all of them. The quick little exercise I just gave about the witness was just an attempt to give at least a bit of a tongue taste of what's involved here.
What scholars have found is that as they look at all of the various traditions around the world, as they looked at stages the Buddhist mindfulness of Vedanta Hinduism's five levels of meditation, Zen Buddhism's Ten Oxherding Pictures, Jewish Kabbal’s seven levels the tree a life, the Christian mystics of centering prayer or St. Teresa's seven interior castles, the Sufi Stages of Spiritual States. All of these paths of waking up describe a quite similar path of higher and higher states awareness. Leading from the ego or separate self-sense as one end, to the timeless eternal, ever present, true seer, or pure witness, or I am’ness, or real self, the supreme identity at the other.
This is really one most significant discoveries that humanity has as ever made and its existence certainly should be made known to every human being on the planet and should be part of any truly truly liberal education. One of the reasons that things like mindfulness had become so popular in the West, is that mindfulness is a good example of a practice that was originally created about 2000 years ago specifically per waking up.
Its ultimate aim is to free a person from their limited identity with a fragmented world of samsara and the egoic-self which is inherently linked with suffering and pain and agony and open them to their real identity in Nervana that is a totally unified, whole, integrated awareness, one with the entire world, one with the ground of all being, its ever present spirit, or self, or witnessed. A path towards that ultimate enlightenment includes practicing mindfulness, which simply a technique resting in the witness. It’s a technique for being aware of each moment. Seeing it as an object an the ceasing to identify with it as a subject.
A real awareness in Sanskrit is called neke-neke. That’s not that. I have feelings, but not those feelings. I have thoughts, but I’m not those thoughts. The more we practice mindfulness the more we practice remembering the witness, then the more distance we get from, the more we cease to identify with our present stream of experience; our anxieties and pains and depressions. The more we become awareness, and not any content of awareness. The more open and free and clear and creative we become. We closer we get to appear I am’ness which is awakening to a really radical freedom.
This isn't anything like a typical religion that Westerners are mostly aware of which is some sort of mythic story that you’re supposed to agree with. If you do, you get to live forever in a mythic heaven with all the other really boring people in the world. This isn't a mythic belief system. These paths of waking up whether we find them in the East or West are psycho-technologies of consciousness transformation. That’s the crucial path of waking up.
I wanted to get to growing up and I was struck by saying there’s just one little problem with the path of waking up and it actually turns out to be a truly significant almost deal breaking problem. This doesn't have to do with the path of growing up, but I just wanted to make sure. I know I've been talking pretty constantly here. If there any bit questions, are we okay? How we doing here?
[0:28:11.9] MB: Yeah, this is this is great. There're so many things I want to ask about. Before we dig into the concept of growing up, which I definitely want to talk about and I also want to hear your thoughts about the kind of the problem or the tension between growing up and waking up. I wanted to to kind of suss out one of the core tenants of integral theory that informs both your deep study of 50,000 years of human history and integrated all of these different traditions is the really simple, one of the starting points that you have is the idea that everybody is right. Will you share that concept and how that has helped inform the creation of integral theory?
[0:28:53.8] KW: Sure. Yeah, that was the driving point. I mean if you think about it, one of the ways that I sometimes put this is no human brain is capable of producing 100% error. It can’t function if that's all it did. I sometimes say nobody is smart enough to be wrong all the time. There has to be some partial truth in virtually every concept, notion, idea that human beings have has. Even if we say, “Okay, Ed. There's a time when everybody thought the Earth was flat and the sun went around the Earth,” and so on. We can say that there were some problems with that. We can say, Yes, that's true, but there's a whole school of philosophy called phenomenology,” and that is you just bracket what’s arising in your awareness. Don't try to decide whether it’s empirically true or not. Just look at it as a phenomena itself. Look at it just as it’s arising on its own. If you do that and you sit outside and look at the heavens, that’s exactly what it looks like. The earth does look flat. It doesn't look like a globe and it does look like the sun and the moon go around the earth. Those are phenomenologically accurate.
The question then becomes, “Okay. How would have to be the overall situation in a worldview, or in a person's overall understanding where they would see the world from just that perspective?” If we do that, then we find that indeed humanity as to individual humans go through a process of evolution. They go through a process of indeed what we’ll call growing up. They grow and evolve through various stages, various epics, various areas of development, and when they do, what they're seeing in those epics is true for that time and it makes sense if you go back and look at it from that perspective.
If we do that and then put all of these perspectives together, then we don't just say, “Okay. Which one is right,” and all the others are wrong. We say, “No. Wait. Each of these was right at its own place and its own time as it unfolded.” This actually turns out to be important because those previous errors that humans existed 5,000 years ago, 10,000 years ago, 2000 years ago, those turn out to be epics that are reproduced if you will in the world views of influence as they grow up today.
If we look at the great stages of human development — Jean Gebser is one of the geniuses in this and he outlined the stages of overall development. Just broad generalizations that human beings have gone through over the past 500,000 years and he turned these epics archaic, the magic, the mystic, the rational, the pluralistic, and the integral.
As it turns out those stages are exactly the major stages of growth and development that an individual goes through from birth today. Individuals are born the first year or so of life. They have an archaic worldview. From about years 1 to 3, they have a very magical primary process view the world. Then emerging at around ages 5,6, 7, they start to get a very mythic view of the world. The various developmental schools of psychology that did look at these early stages of development all agree with these different sort of early world views unfolding in that way.
Then around adolescence, a rational capacity emerges and this is associate also with the age, the rise of modernity in the Western Enlightenment, it was call the age of reason and revolution and then if you look at the pluralistic or relativistic worldview that's associated with postmodernism. Then we’re right on the edge now where were starting to look back on all of these previous stages of development and realizing that all of them are parts of an overall path of human growth and development. All of them are partially right during the ages that they emerge. As it turns out, a human being can stop at almost anyone of those stages.
We have grown men and women today who are 20 and 30 and 40 years old many of whom are still at a magic stage. Others are at a mythic state. Others at a rational state. Others are pluralistic. We realize it's going to go on forever, but that overall view is starting to be known as the integral view, because whereas all of this previous stages think that their view in their view truth and values are the only real truth and values in the whole world. The actual integral stage development which only a couple of decades old though, but people at that stage of development start to view all of the previous stages as being important.
That changes everything. We’ve never had up a stage of development that thought other stages were important. If you are at a mythic traditional, mythic literal standard view from the stage, things like you believe the Bible is the literal word of God. All of these myths are absolutely. There are scientific facts. That’s a typical — It’s called mythic literal stage of development. If you’re at that stage of development, you probably belong to a fundamentalist school of one of the world's great religions and this is also called an ethnocentric stage of development because it believes that its special group are chosen people, or the one and only people that are chosen by God. Interestingly, about 60% of world population are at an ethnocentric mythic literal stage of development.
Then as you rise up into a modern or rational stage of development, then you expand from ethnocentric to world center. World-centric believes not that just my special group alone should be given preference but that all people should be treated fairly regardless of race, color, sex, or creed. That was a huge move historically for human beings, but it was a move from ethnocentric orientation to world-centric orientation. That actually was a specific shift in our history. Believe it or not, that shift didn’t occur until a couple hundred years ago Human beings have been on this planet for close to a million years and it wasn't until a few hundred years ago that we actually figured out slavery was morally objectionable. So in a 100 year, from around 1770 to 1870, slavery was outlawed by every rational industrial modern nation on the face of the planet. First time that it ever happened, even indigenous tribes has slavery. Even all of the cultures where the great religions first arose has slavery.
St. Paul Council's slaves, “Accept Jesus, and serve your master joyously.” The great traditions [inaudible 0:36:09.4] and Buddhism and Vedanta Hinduism still has slavery. They were good at waking up that didn't mean they were good at growing up. Growing up is that process of going through those stages of individual evolution and development and it turns out that waking up and growing up are two very different things. You can be very high on one and not very high on the other.
Most common is historically. Most of the people who had waking up or enlightenment experiences were also ethnocentric. They existed in cultures that had slavery, and most of the slaves are different ethnic tribes. In other words they were racist. They were all patriarchal. In other words they were sexist, and they're all ethnocentric. Even though they were awakening to this ground of being, this one with all beings, they are racists, sexist, ethnocentric. That's because even though they were advanced in waking up, they weren’t that advance in growing up. There were at a mythic ethnocentric stage of development, and it wasn’t until we get to the modern rational world centric stage of development that sexism started to be called out, started to get the women's movements and so we have in today's world were to be sexist, is to be charged with a very serious offense.
Of course, to be racist is to be criminal. This is new, the humanity. This is a product with a very high stage of growing up. The problem is each stage has both these pluses and these minuses of course. One of the problems of the modern rational stage hasn’t emerged, and it outlawed slavery, it overthrew monarchy. There were the French and American revolutions trying to introduce democracy. All of that was good but what was problematic is they looked at the previous error, the mythic-ethnocentric stage of the great mythic religions and I threw out all of them.
They got rid of racism but they also threw out enlightenment, meaning waking up, and they got rid of sexism but they threw out awakening. They went from ethnocentric to world centric but they tossed out the great liberation. That's problematic, is that we tended to lose access to those very esoteric schools of spirituality that had advanced quite far.
Those are usually a small portion of the culture and they were often differentiated from the great mythic exoteric religions. In the great Catholic religion, for example, most of the followers are believing in their dogmatic myths. I believe Jesus Christ is one and only biological son of the one only God and then you get to go to heaven. A very small number of them were contemplative schools of development and they were interested in waking up. Problem is the modern world didn't differentiate between those two and it threw out all of them, and so we lost access to this extraordinary road to ultimate reality into our ultimate identity with this ground of all being.
What was same was everybody's right, is we have to go back and look at all of the truths that humanity came up with over its entire history, because those turnout in some cases do not only have truths that are still true today like waking up but they end up embodying world views that are still true today as people are born at square one and have to move through archaic, to magic, to mythic, to rational, the pluralistic, the integral stages of development.
We still have well a recent study in this country, America, show that three out of five people, 60% were still at ethnocentric or lower. Hell, we just elected president who’s ethnocentric. He's mythic literal. He is racist, sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic. God bless him, but that's not the highest we can aim for right now. The way he’s seeing the world is exactly the way the world looks at that stage of development and that's why you can't challenge him about those and that's why he is immune to so-called facts. We find this is true for every stage of development.
One of the things that we do with an integral point of views is we say, “Okay. If we're approaching any topic, like how should we do marketing for business, we have to look not only at just doing market surveys and all of that, but we have to realize — Look at what level of development the different markets are, because somebody who’s at a magic stage of development, somebody who’s at a mythic stage of development, somebody who’s at a rational stage of development, somebody who’s at a pluralistic postmodern stage, somebody who’s at an integral stage have very different drives, very different needs, very different motivations that empirical research on all of these and there to respond very very differently to marketing plans. You want to know what you're doing.
What most people do in terms of marketing is they'll come up with a particular marketing plan and it's usually comes from the level of development that they themselves are at. They will appeal to people at that one level but they turn off people at the other 6 or 7 levels of development. You need to know what you're doing. We find us through at virtually any discipline. If you’re looking, for example, at spirituality, if you're looking at faith, we have empirical studies now showing that human beings go through around six or seven stages of faith, and those stages are essentially variations on archaic stage, magic stage, a mythic stage, rational stage, a pluralistic stage and an integral state. Their spirituality looks different at every stage, completely different.
If somebody’s at a magic stage of development, they're in it for the miracles. That want to watch Jesus walk on water they want to see loaves turn into fishes, and water turned into wine. They want to see the dead raised to be living. They want to live forever in a magical heaven. As I move into mythic, and they get a more extensive cognitive orientation, than they start looking for things that are true, that are eternally true. They start looking at God's commandments and things that are important like that and they realize that they have to follow these commandments if they want to fit in and be saved basically by God himself.
What this is really doing is moving into just a whole dimension of reality that has rules and regulations and that human beings have to adapt to and this is an entirely appropriate move at that stage of development to do that. You still think very much in mythic terms, so you think all of the myths in the Bible are literally true and you think Jesus was the one and only biological son of the one and only God.
When you move to a world-centric rational stage, then you’ll start say, “Okay. Wait a minute. There all these other world religions and all these other world teachers and I can’t have the only one that’s right. I have a more world-centric point of view, more universal point of view.” So all of a sudden, we’re not the only chosen people. I happen to relate to Jesus Christ, so I’m allowed to accept him as my teacher but I can recognize there are other great world teachers as well. I can recognize that Buddha had important truths and chakra had important truths and so on that.
Interestingly, the Catholic Church itself for the first time its entire history at Vatican II announced that — Paraphrasing, “We recognize that a comparable salvation can be had by other world religions.” With the first time in the entire history, they acknowledge that they didn't have the one and only true way. They moved from ethnocentric to world-centric, and that is exactly what has to happen because again with sort of 60 to 70% of the world’s population at ethnocentric levels of development. Anything resembling world peace is categorically not possible under those circumstances. Yet that dimension of things is not looked at at all. We look at it in terms of, “Oh, we have to do economic things to help the world,” or “Oh, we have to do technological things,” or “Oh, we have to do political things.” but nobody looks at these interior dimensions, and we find both waking up and growing up.
Of course, we have a lot of other dimensions and in integral is well. We look at cleaning up, which has to do things like shadow elements and we look at things like showing up which has to do with all the different sorts of dimensions of reality that we have. The guiding light in all of this is that there's some degree of truth in virtually every approach to reality you look at. The question is no longer which approach is right, and all the others are wrong.
The real question is how can all of these approaches fit together. What framework can we adopted that actually embraces all of them and they can all fit together in a coherent fashion? That's what reality looks like, and if we’re not doing that, were really not chasing reality. We’re chasing a narrow, partial, fragmented, broken part of reality and that's a no go. That’s still what most of our professions do. It’s what almost all of our disciplines do, but we clarify find that to be a very limited approach. It certainly makes a difference as you start applying this in your life and how you live
[0:45:52.6] MB: One of the key components that I think is really important to understand in this whole looking at different levels of development is the idea that hierarchies do exist but that they don't necessarily equate to moral superiority and that each hierarchy to evolve has to sort of transcend and include the levels below it. Could you talk a little bit about that idea?
[0:46:17.3] KW: Sure. One of the problems with just the whole postmodern movement in general, and postmodernism was named because it came after modernity. Modernity generally means the period starting around 1600-1700 in the West where we had the rise of almost all the modern sciences, modern chemistry, modern biology, modern physics, modern astronomy and so on and we had so-called Western Enlightenment, which is called the age of reason because it moved primarily into using rationality and scientific investigation instead of simply mythic revelations.
That was a profound period in human development obviously, and because it was thinking in sort of third person rational terms, then it tended to think in terms of universal realities. That’s why it looked at human beings as universal individuals. They had universal rights. Not just rights if you were a Catholic, or rights if you were Jew, or rights if you belonged to this race, or this group, or that class and so on, but rights that you had and just being a human being, a universal human being. That's why slavery was ended and so on.
That were downsides as I said with each era, and one of the downsides with the modern era is that it just pushed rationality itself too hard. Even in the great distinction of the good true and the beautiful, the true was represented by rational objective truth, but the good was moral reasoning in moral judgment, and beautiful was aesthetic judgments, and rationality ended up sort of pushing all of those out the window.
We started to get what was called not just science but scientism, or often called scientific materialism where all of the interior realities, consciousness, awareness, morals, emotions and so on, were thought not to be really real. Just what can be rationally and objectively observed in a scientific experiment is real and that pretty much came down to just material atoms, almost everything else is denied reality.
The rise of postmodernism which really started around the 1960s and it started as — First of all, it was a higher level of growth. It was a pluralistic stage, which was a stage that became aware of the previous rational stage and found some of its limitation. That's why it’s generally called postmodernism. It’s also called post-rationalism. It came after rationality and attempted to open it up and that's why also we started to get was called multiculturalism, where it’s understood that not just Western Eurocentric culture has the only real truths, but cultures all over the planet have their own unique truths and they need to be honored as well.
We got the whole Civil Rights movement, we got the acceleration of personal and professional feminism, we got the whole environmental movement and so on. One of the problems with a pluralistic or postmodern stage was because it started to try and sort of include everything but it didn't make distinctions. In others, if you're looking at, let’s say, being inclusive, as being a good thing, which postmodernism did, it didn't look at the fact that there are stages of inclusiveness. Each stage is more and more and more inclusive. Conversely, the lower stages actually less inclusive, that there's actually some problems with those. They tend to be egocentric and ethnocentric. There not world-centric.
Postmodernism came short of making that distinction and the reason is they confused the types of hierarchies. Postmodernists thought that all hierarchies were dominator hierarchies. Dominator hierarchies are like the cash system or criminal organizations. The higher you go in that hierarchy, the more people you can oppress, the more people you can dominate. The postmodernist thought that all hierarchies, all ranking, all levels of any sort of ranking were dominator hierarchies. They're all oppressive and they all cause enormous social suffering and social ills.
They didn't distinguish between dominator hierarchies and growth hierarchies. Growth hierarchies, each higher level is more inclusive and less domineering, not the other way around. It’s just the opposite domineering hierarchies. A typical growth hierarchy we see in evolution itself. We go from, quarks, to atoms, to molecules, to cells, to organisms. Each one of those transcends but includes the previous one. It doesn't oppressive. Molecules don't hate atoms. Molecules are not domineering atoms, they're embracing. They actually include them. If anything, they love them.
Most of the developmental schemes we’re talking about; archaic, to magic, to mythic, to rational and so on, and mostly developmental schemes that developmental psychology looks at, those are all growth hierarchies and it’s only the higher stages of growth hierarchies that you overcome dominator hierarchies. All growth hierarchies move from egocentric, to ethnocentric, to world centric, to integrated. It’s only at world-centric that you stop wanting to domineer and dominate.
The only cure for dominator hierarchy is a high level of growth hierarchy. People at low levels of growth hierarchies use dominator hierarchies. Even then in growth hierarchies, as you’re saying, you have to be careful because simply the fact that you have a higher level — Higher something means like atoms, molecules, cells, it means that the cognitive structure of a higher level includes all of the components of the previous level, but then adds something extra.
Therefore is bigger, is wider, is higher, whatever term you want, but it doesn't always necessarily mean it's better because this higher stage can still make mistakes. It can still create problems. It can still deny or if it has in a psychological being. If there are various thoughts or various feelings that you're frightened up or judgmental or afraid of, you can repress them. You concealed them out. The higher you go the more capacity you have for doing that because cognition gets stronger and stronger. Higher not only means higher potential capacities, it also means higher potential problems. Inherently, the problems at one stage are solved only by the next higher stage and it introduces its own problems and those can be solved again at the next higher stage and so on.
Growth hierarchies are one most important discoveries that humanity has made. Again, as you look at all the various maps around the world and look at how they broke down, you can see once that were dominator hierarchies and you can see once that were growth hierarchies, and the growth hierarchies always were involved in creating more moral, more sustainable more benign, more goodness, more truth more beauty, and dominator hierarchies were always concerned with oppression and domination and suffering, slavery and on and on and on.
Again, what’s been such a problem with postmodernism in the last 40 or 50 years since it became into being with the 60s is that it didn't allow growth hierarchies and it basically denied all hierarchies, and that was ironic because pluralistic postmodernism itself is the result of five or six levels of a growth hierarchy. Nobody is born a pluralism, you're born at archaic and you have to develop to the hierarchical stages of magic, to mythic, to rational and finally to pluralistic. When the pluralist turn around and said, “Everything is equal. There’s nothing but egalitarianism. All values are the same.” Then they cut out the path of growth to their own level of awareness. They killed growth entirely and that's effectively what we got from postmodernism is it stopped acting as a leading edge in development and that has been just really kind of a disaster across the board. Enormous number problems that the world is facing now around the around the world results from just that.
What we’re trying to do just with sort of integral approach is put all of these things on the table and make sure that we are looking at not just what people say or do the opinions that they have, or the belief that they hold, but that we also understand the context that those beliefs are coming from, that we take a genealogical approach, that is we actually look at the genealogy of these ideas at the stages of growth and evolution and development that has occurred, because evolution seems to touch pretty much everything. Tracking the stages of evolutionary unfolding becomes really crucial in this whole approach. Again, virtually any area we’re looking at.
[0:56:13.3] MB: This is obviously an extremely vast and complicated topic. For our listeners who want to be able to kind of dig in and get a little bit deeper into some of the fundamentals of integral theory, where can they find you online and kind of what’s a good starting place?
[0:56:32.1] KW: Sure. I've got about 25 books and they're all still in print and you can get any of them on Amazon. They’ve been translated in over 30 foreign languages. They’re pretty widely available and people can just do that. You can also just Google integral and you’ll get plugged-in to sort of a worldwide movement that’s looking at these areas. Website, a place to start might be integrallife.com. We threw a pretty wide web there. We included a lot of different approaches but the core guiding principle of the website is the integral interview and there a lot of discussions and dialogues by me and articles and essays and so on. People can follow up there if they wish.
[0:57:15.8] MB: Ken, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all these wisdom. I know that integral theory is such a fascinating concept, the idea of integrating the entire history of human knowledge into a piece of framework to understand and explain reality is a massive undertaking. I know that in the limited constraints of a one-hour conversation, there's no way we can even really scratch the surface of it.
I really appreciate you sharing some of these core concepts and we’ll definitely put links to all you books and everything in the show notes for listeners so they can check those out.
[0:57:51.0] KW: Great. Awesome.
[0:57:52.2] MB: Thank you very much for being on the show. We really appreciate it.
[0:57:54.8] KW: Thank you Matt. Thank Austin. I appreciated it.
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