Thursday, January 26, 2006

Judgement vs. Discernment

A recent article on MSNBC claims brain scans show that Democrats and Republicans are both adept at making decisions without letting the facts get in the way. While there is probably no single, simple explanation regarding one's resistance to facts, this article offers insights worth considering.

From the article: "We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning," said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. "What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts."

The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.

According to Clare Graves' research (graves is the founder of what is now called "Spiral Dynamics"), Individuals show a marked decrease in fear activation at Yellow - possibly coinciding with some rewiring of the limbic system to make it less reactive to what Tier 1 perceives as "threats."
Perhaps that is why it is so important to approach Tier 1 levels in ways that don't trigger Fight or Flight. Any chance of being heard by the neocortex - even if it's slim - requires a sense of safety - a sense of being understood. Attack doesn't work very well if the goal is neocortex engagement!*

And, "
This goes WAY beyond fight/flight responses to perceived attacks. We are talking about a homeostatic response of the nervous system, attempting to maintain a stable world view." Tom suggests a 12-step program for "Worldview Defense Addiction."**

But there seems to be a deeper issue to be explored if we're truly going to embody a Tier 2 awareness: the difference between "judgement" and "discernment." Tier 1 individuals are clearly involved in making judgements, and politics is a as good a place as any to do that. I am suggesting that Second Tier individuals make "discernments" based on the facts. Let me give you some examples.

If I say to you that I feel President Bush is out to destroy this country, I'm making an "assumption" based on what I believe. An assumption is a judgement (a First Tier analysis) based on my feelings. It may well be that President Bush truly believes he's doing the best thing for the country, and therefore, he may not consciously be out to dismantle the constitution. Another judgement would be that, whether he believes he's damaging the country, or not, he is. It's possible that the actions of this adminstration may actually be good for the country in the long run, as they may ultimately remind us how zealously we have to safeguard our freedoms.

A discernment, on the other hand, is based on facts. An example would be President Bush talking in April of 2004 about how FISA requires warrants to do phone taps***, while all the while he knew the NSA was doing them without the required warrants. It is a fact that, at least that one time, the President lied. Because I have caught the president in a lie to the American people, I can then discern that the President is capable of lying to the people he represents.

Second Tier demands that we make discernments. Second Tier also demands that we speak out when we discern those facts. Not to do so would be terribly post modern. However, even if we speak those facts from love within the language of individuals worldviews, sometimes closed Tier 1 systems are still unwilling to hear those discernments. All Tier 2 can do at that point is is either control toxic expressions or create a stimulus for disassociation from that worldview: not easy!

*Credit for analysis to Cindy Wigglesworth
**Credit for additional analysis to Tom Carey
"Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution." - President Bush, Buffalo, NY, April 2004

Friday, January 20, 2006

Listening Filters: Friend or Foe?

In my personal Integral Development Plan, one of the things I try to pay attention to are the listening "filters" through which I view the world. My favorite filters are "good/bad," and "right/wrong." They're the ones that always seem to get me in trouble, hence the title of this article, "Filters: Friend or Foe?"

Othe examples of listening filters are personal biases, gender, culture, and stage development.

If we're not aware of when these filters are triggered, they can cause terrible damage: to relationships, jobs, politics, almost any part of our lives. Failing to notice them and acting out based on the judgements that accompany those filters are a formula for disaster. By not dealing with out filters, we remain in a reactive mode.

I had an amazing AHA! moment this last year. It suddenly occurred I needed to pay attention to the filters I use when listening to ME! I was only watching for my filters when listening to others! I think the filter I use most when listening to myself is "find the fault." In other words, what's wrong with this picture? What am I missing, what have I not considered, where am I wrong?

What are the filters we apply when listening to ourselves? How do we listen to ourselves? This is a challenging practice. It seems there is no place more than ourselves that we have it as "the way it is."

The AHA! moment: These filters aren't our enemies! They are our allies and we need to learn how to use them and pay attention. We need to learn to use those filters to hear the wisdom of others and ourselves!

When paying attention to my filters, I try to notice the corresponding felt senses that come with awareness of those filters, and not acting or making judgement, learning how to listen more deeply and compassionately.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Leading an Examined Life

The chart I created, shown here, is an "Interpersonal psychograph." This one was developed by me, about me, to try and measure my lines of development using "levels of proficiency" in leadership capacity.

As a leader, I want to know where my levels of proficiency are. For example, a person may poseess a high "level" of proficiency in cognitive ability (e.g. high I.Q.) but may have a low level of proficiency at at interpersonal skills (e.g. low E.Q.).

By identifying these levels of proficiency in ourselves and in our organizations, we learn how to best delegate, support and coach team members based on their, and our own, unique capabilities. It also enables us to develop specific "integral practices" to strengthen lesser developed proficiencies.

I bring this up because I was asked the other night if I knew of any tests that could be taken to determine someone's level development. We can never know too much about ourselves. A large part of living an integral life is understanding ourselves and why we are the way we are.

For instance, if I were to discover that I lacked a willingness to consider unsolicited feeback from others, I might want to know why, and then take steps to improve.

There several ways to examine your own level of development. One of the very best is the Leadership Development Profile (LDP) which is a profile of your style and orientation as a leader. Another good one is the Schimel Lode Self-Assessment of Interpersonal Capacities. The psychograph I posted at the top is based on that assessment. It's free! Tests like this can provide insights to your own development. Another group of free tests can be be found at

Last, try the fun tests at which calls itself the #1 Destination for Self-Discovery.. All sorts of tests, silly and serious. You used to hate to take tests? These are fun and they are about our favorite subject: ourselves.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Yeah, but is it "integral?"

I don't know A. Andrew Gonzalez, but I have absolutely loved his paintings and drawings from the moment I saw the first one. His bio says he is largely self-taught and that he describes his work as "a contemporary Tantric or Transfigurative Art that explores the dramatic union of the sensual and spiritual."

His work is akin to a revival of classical neoplatonic ideals centering on the figure as temple and vessel sublimed by transformative forces.

In looking at whether a work of art is "integral", or not, there are many aspects that must be considered. First, a painting, a musical piece, whatever, is an inanimate object, an "it." Though a painting may "have a subject", it is an "object," and has no quadrants of its own. It can, however, be looked at from the four perspectives of the quadrants, or what is known as a "quadrivium (whether a particular piece of art has "life" is entirely another philosophical question).

A quadrant is a subject's perspective; a quadrivium is the perspective the object is being looked at from.

Neither can an "it," in this case a work of art, have interior or exterior realms. Again, it's an object, and an object can only have interiors that first the artist, and then the viewer, impose upon it.

Considering whether a work of art is integral, or not, seems to me has to do with the artist's intentions. Even if an artist doesn't have a working knowledge of the integral approach, if that artist intentionally includes the four quadrants in the production of that work, then I would contend it is integral. If any of the quadrants are missing during that process, it would then be partial, or not integral.

What does it mean to include include the four quadrants in the production of a work of art, or any kind of work?

Because there's an artist and a viewer, there's automatically a lower left quadrant of community:" we have a shared experience of looking at the same work. The lower right quadrant is the system, or technique, of producing the piece. The upper right quadrant could be the subject of the work. Almost all works of art have these in common to a degree.

But here's where I think Gonzales' work truly touches the integral approach:
Gonzalez describes his work as transformative, and I would agree. With the conscious intention and vision of making his work transformative, there would be attention the upper left quadrant, both for himself, and the viewer, and therefore, there would also be interior and exterior elements to that quadrant.

Enjoy the work of this amazing artist.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

"ONE," The Movie

I heartly recommend the new independent film, "ONE."

"Early one morning, in April, 2002, a middle-aged father of three from Michigan suddenly awoke from a sound sleep, overcome by a strange compulsion... to make a movie."

The Problem: They were not film-makers.

"We were actually reading the instruction book for the camera while conducting our interviews," says Ward M. Powers, very novice director of "One: The Movie.

I saw it for the second time last night, and recommend seeing it more than once as there is so much rich content. They have turned out an important movie that asks all the really big questions that are addressed by some of the world's greatest thinkers, and also ordinary people who come up with the most amazing answers. It also answers these questions from different developmental perspectives without judgement.

Questions like What happens to you after you die? Describe God. When is war justifiable? What is the meaning of life? How would God want us to respond to aggression and terrorism? And more...

Some elements that particularly resonated with me was the idea that "fear" drives so much of what we do: fear of being wrong, fear of being right, fear of others, and the fear of seeing our true nature and who we really are. Another element that was powerful for me were the many answers that came from the question, "describe God."

At the end of the film, Father Thomas Keating, the leading figure in Christian contemplative practice, points out that there are three stages of "God:" First, we become aware of God as the "Other", then we try to be "like" the Other, and finally discover there is no "Other."

We gathered at SeattleIntegral member Naomi's house afterwards and had wonderful discussions about the movie. Namoi came up with a brilliant idea to spur the conversation: she put the forty question of the movie into a basket and we took turns drawing the questions and responding with our own answers.

So much richness, so much to contemplate and further our understand, at least conceptually, of the non-dual, and the "one-ness" of all.

See this movie and share it with your friends and loved ones.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Towards a Transrational Spirituality

Wikipedia says Integral Theory can be seen as a reaction against rationalism and materialism. While that is true, it is only partially true. It's true that Integral (the Theory and the Level) is a more universal and holistic perspective, but it more than just the reaction described on Wikipedia. While rationalism is subordinating and denies spirituality, Integral Theory addresses all known aspects of consciousness, including survival, magic, mythical, and even post-modern pluralism, which is also more holistic than the rational-scientific approach. Further, each of these levels of consciousness addresses a specific values line, which is only one of the five aspects of integral Theory.

Now that I've taken exception with Wikipedia's opening about Integral Theory, I'm going to agree that, for many, myself included, Integral Theory, and a more universal and holistic view, do contribute to an ever-expanding re-awakening of spirit.

My break with spirit, then referred to by me as "religion," came at twelve. I could not "rationalize" what I was hearing. It was religion wrapped in conservatism. Not the religion of the New Testament, but of the Old. I rebelled because it was clearly prerational to me, even at twelve, so I called "bullshit."

My parents had faithfully taken me and my sister to church every Sunday, and we were involved in other church activities. My dad was even the advisor for the junior high group, so I was not excited about telling my parents I didn't want to go church anymore, because I couldn't stomach the tyranny of fundamentalism. Later, it was the conservative politics and hypocrisy that drove me further from the fold. When I finally told my mother, she said, "I wondered how long that would take." It wasn't until years later that I fully understood the gift she and my father had given me.

With nothing else to guide me, I eventually moved to a scientific-rational mindset. I discovered Ayn Rand, devoured eveything she wrote, and fully embraced the philosophy of Objectivism. I made the classic mistake of killing God and first replacing "him" with rational thought and accomplishments, and later with egoic humanism.....rightfully and understandably so.

It didn't take long to start disassociating with Objectivism. It is cold...Matter-of-fact, and without other words, scientific-rational, achievement oriented, and materialistic. I moved deeper into liberalism. I could unite with scientific-rational mindsets against fundamentalist, mythic, prerational religion, and the politics that went along with it, but I also had my compassion.

Years later as I began a mediation practice, something--I had no idea what--began to open up for me. I could no longer deny the existence of "God," but still held a revulsion to the sense of a prerational God, the only God I had been exposed to. At the same time I began reading Pema Chodren and Thich Nhat Hanh, and began developing an expanded sense of "God." Here was a spiritual orientation that held individual rights, liberal humanistic values, the necessity of a "practice," and compassionate politics as a transrational, postconservative, postliberal, and evolutionary spirituality as a higher value.

This transliberal, evolutionary and progressive spirituality is but one part of living an Integral Life.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

So what does it mean to Live an Integral Life? Well, there’s the obvious: Paying attention to Mind, Body, Heart, and Soul. And then there’s the not-so-obvious.

You may have heard people ask, “How do I apply integral theory? What does it look like in action?” Usually when people ask these questions, they’re usually asking about the big picture. They want to know how they can use this grand synthesis to rock the world, make positive changes on local, national, and global scales. We also want to see integral theory in action, so we can get a clearer idea of how others are modeling it, using it in their professional lives.

This seems perfectly natural to me. What could possibly be more important than changing the world, and seeing, understanding, and appreciating what others are doing to effect change?

How about changing our selves? I know, because I’ve experienced it, that we can get to a point where we have a new awareness and a realization of possibilities, but lack direction. We also may lack the knowledge of how to move to an integral perspective and how to apply it. You’re probably already reading and trying to improve your cognitive awareness and understanding of “integral.” You’re probably already meditating (and if you aren’t, you should be, as there are proven benefits).

But what else are you doing? Take a good, long, hard look at where some aspects of your life might need attention. How are you at relationships? Diet? Are you not playing enough because you’re working too hard? What about finances? Community?

Each of these, and everything else you’re doing, or not doing, falls into the AQAL frame work. The frame work already exists whether we use it or not - it’s up to each of us to make sure we’re paying attention. Once we consciously integrate these processes into our lives, we change our selves, and thereby, change the world.

My intention in this space is to examine my own integral practices, and my integral life: where am I lacking, what do I need to pay attention to, where are my shadows that stand in the way of my own evolution. I also want to honor my successes. It is also my hope that, by examining these parts to a whole, that others may find it valuable

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Another beginning.....

Seems my life is made up of constant beginnings - new jobs, new locations, new friends, new starts, new practices, new visions. Not just my life, though. Everyone has them, all the time. Every moment is a new beginning...and another....and another.....this this now is all there is. No tomorrow. It never arrives. No yesterday. They are but memories, constructs of how I wish they had happened, and not necessarily the way they did. Anyway, they too, no longer exist. 

This blog is also a new beginning. What does it mean to live an integral life? Do you do it unconsciously or consciously? If you do it consciously, is it embodied or just a practice toward embodyment? Is one aware of it, or does it just happen? Yes....No....

Ah....a paradox! I love paradoxes! The ability to hold paradoxes (two seemingly opposite positions) is a clear indicator of more complexity in one's thinking. For instance, everybody is at least partially right, no matter what their position. If you think the world is full of miserable people that are out to get you, guess what? You're right! On the other hand, if you think the world is made of generous and loving people, you're also right. Each of those opposing views is correct from their perspective

I've started this blog sooner than I thought I would. I got invited to join a blog circle, or something, connected with It coincides with the launch of my new web portal that brings together the different web properties I've created, to get them all under one umbrella. I hope to examine what it means to truly lead an integral life on a deeper level than can be found in an article I published on my website. 

You can read that article here.