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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sri Aurobindo was using “integral” long before the 1960s

The integral world is in transition. For a long time, to many of us, Ken Wilber was the only game in town. In recent years, however, there has been a concerted effort among some of those interested in integral theory to create an integral theory that is not simply Wilberian theory. Among those working the integral territory is Robert Masters. In his November newsletter, he asks and answers the question, What Is Integral? He manages to talk about integral without ever mentioning Ken Wilber.
WHAT IS “INTEGRAL”?“Integral” is fast becoming a very loosely applied term, supplying a bit of contemporary heft to otherwise pedestrian nouns, while it slides ever further into that once-was-fashionable territory that has swallowed up such terms as “holistic.” This does not mean that we ought to dump “integral” or start dumbing it down or hoist it up onto a postpostmodern soapbox, but rather that we define it as clearly as possible, both directly and through comparison with related terms.“Integral” to me basically means inclusive in a radically comprehensive manner. I say “radically” for a number of reasons:
(1) What’s being brought together constitutes not just parts of a totality, but also as much as possible of that totality’s presence, in as many directions and depths as possible;
(2) such a bringing-together is far more than just a get-together or reunion or conference of partially connected items or qualities; and
(3) the circle of extension that reaches from within out beyond every part illuminates and deepens the connections between all the pieces or qualities being brought together, literally integrating them without any requisite homogenization or dilution of individual differences. (Implicit to this is the fully embodied realization that everything exists through relationship, along with the invitation to become intimate with it all.)
“Holistic” (and “wholistic”) was the pseudo-hippyish ancestor of “integral” (even though Aurobindo was using “integral” long before the 1960s), as full of New Age, anemically grounded optimism as it was lacking in genuine practicality. “Holistic” meant well, but didn’t rise for long from the kind of sloppy/fluffy thinking and metaphysical quicksand that made it an easy target for probing minds that didn’t give a damn about spiritualized cognition and its sidekick clichés.
“Integral” is a more sober term than “holistic,” more imbued with a sense of true inclusiveness, but nevertheless is in growing danger of shipwrecking itself on overly intellectual reefs, especially as it busies itself theorizing about its theorizing. Where “holistic” had an anti-intellectual quality to it, “integral” can tend to lean too far the other way. In both cases, however, there is a lack of real embodiment...posted by WH @ 7:05 AM Integral Options Cafe

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