This week I was interview by Rick Archer, host of the popular spiritual podcast called “Buddha at the Gas Pump.” Rick is a long-time practitioner of transcendental meditation, and he has conducted hundreds of interviews with otherwise ordinary people who relate their experience of spiritual awakening. I think our dialogue turned out well, and I invite you to watch it at this link:
In this episode of The Daily Evolver video podcast, Jeff Salzman and I take a tour through the origins of integral philosophy, starting with G.W.F. Hegel, who first explained the mechanisms of evolution in human history, and on through a stream of philosophers who unified the evolution of matter, consciousness and spirit. I also discuss the line of developmental psychologists who defined the distinct stages of human growth including the emerging integral stage.
Bringing us to the present, I then appreciate and critique leading contemporary integral philosopher Ken Wilber.
Understanding the history of integral thought helps us situate ourselves in the lineage of a philosophy that has itself evolved – and continues to evolve with our participation.
Does America set a good moral example for the world? NPR’s Phoenix affiliate station KJZZ recently interviewed me about PRRI’s 2017 survey of American values. (PRRI, or Public Religion Research Institute, is a nonpartisan national polling organization). Interviewer Steve Goldtein of NPR was specifically interested in one of PRRI’s survey questions regarding the changing status of America’s moral leadership internationally. In response to this important question, I try to quickly get to the heart of the matter in this 7 minute audio interview. I invite comments below.
Part of what NPR left out of the 20 minute recorded interview was my discussion of a recent PBS documentary, hosted by Jim Lehrer, about the possible end of America’s role as the primary defender of modernity worldwide. The documentary highlighted that even though the U.S. wants E.U. countries to foot more of the bill for global stability, and even though both the U.S. and the E.U. decry this relationship of dependency, neither has shown a real willingness to end it. The fact that the U.S. can’t afford this anymore is part of what Trump’s voters were signaling. However, although liberal modernity is threatened from external enemies without, it is also threatened from within its own culture—by postmodernism’s strident rejection of modernity, despite its gifts and accomplishments. Culturally transcending and including postmodernism may thus be America’s main opportunity for moral leadership in the time ahead.
There is obviously much more to say about this matter, but these seven minutes at least provide some food for thought.
Here’s a link to my recent forty-minute video interview by Jeff Salzman of the Daily Evolver. This video is free to watch on the Integral Life website. I introduce some new material I’ve been developing for my next book. The slide below (the final slide of 7 slides used in the video) shows the 7 cardinal virtues on the left, and the corresponding focus of their ethical obligation on the right. As I explain in the interview, that which we conceive to be “transcendent”—that for which we would lay down our lives—is a source of spiritual energy and motivation for living.
This blog is re-posted from the Institute for Cultural Evolution’s website:
This week I attended the Conscious Capitalism organization’s CEO-Summit in Austin, Texas with my ICE colleague Carter Phipps. Our ICE colleague John Mackey, co-author of the book Conscious Capitalism and co-founder of the movement was also there too, of course.
Conscious Capitalism began about ten years ago and has now become a large and vibrant movement. Its high-energy CEO-Summit was attended by close to 400 leaders who are dedicated to raising consciousness in businesses around the world. In addition to its annual conference, the movement now includes local chapter organizations in over 20 States, numerous international chapters, and ambitious plans to increase its profile and impact.
This new approach to business is based on four key tenets: 1) higher purpose, 2) stakeholder integration, 3) conscious leadership, and 4) conscious organizational culture. Unlike other approaches to “corporate social responsibility,” Conscious Capitalism helps identify and harness the intrinsic service value or transcendent meaning, beyond just making money, that can be found at the heart of almost every human enterprise. Once clarified, this intrinsic higher purpose is then used to bring all of an organization’s activities into alignment with its underlying transcendent mission.
The CEO-Summit featured many inspiring examples of people and organizations that are making the world a better place. But for me, the most interesting experience was hearing bestselling author Frederic Laloux present his 2014 book, Reinventing Organizations. This book describes the stages of development in culture and consciousness, which have been previously outlined by the authors of Spiral Dynamics, as well as others, including me. Laloux adds to this well-established stage theory his contention that self-managing teams are the quintessential feature of organizations that embody the “integral” or “post-postmodern” stage of development. The power of self-managing teams has been popularized by the Holocracy business management system, which is now used by innovative organizations such as the Zappos online shoe store.
As several presenters at the Conscious Capitalism conference emphasized, self-managing teams can be a worthwhile innovation in certain types of organizations. And by inviting Laloux to give both a keynote presentation and a breakout session on his book, the conference organizers clearly signaled their encouragement of his work. However, there were also some interesting tensions which are worth reporting on.
Laloux stated that integral-level organizations (or “Teal organizations,” as he calls them, following Ken Wilber’s color scheme) are not concerned with competition. When I originally read this in his book I balked, so I was keen to ask him about it. Answering my question during the breakout session, he explained that when a company is truly mission-driven, forwarding the mission is its primary concern, even at the expense of preserving itself as an organization. Laloux used the example of a government funded, self-managing Dutch nursing company that provides free consulting to its competitors to help them adopt its best practices and imitate their success. According to this “Teal cooperation strategy,” when this nursing company selflessly helps its competitors get bigger and better, the company can then in turn borrow these improvements from its competitors, forwarding its larger mission of improved healthcare for everyone.
However, while I agreed that this strategy of unconditional cooperation is noble and worth pursuing in certain circumstances, I suggested that the value-creating capacity of cooperation is ultimately tied together with competition in an interdependent polarity. That is, when competition and cooperation work together in a mutually correcting relationship that provides for both challenge and support, the value-creating potential of both poles of this polarity are maximized. In business, competition drives excellence and prevents organizations from devolving into complacent bureaucracies. So if Teal organizations eschew any competitive motivation, not only will they be less dynamic and effective, they will fail to adequately serve their stakeholders, which include not only shareholders, but also employees, suppliers, the community, and the environment.
Beyond my critique of Laloux’s failure to recognize or incorporate the value-creating polarity of competition and cooperation into his description of Teal organizations, others pointed out that a truly integral-level organization should be flexible enough to employ different management structures in different situations, rather than seeing self-managing teams as the only way to go. As my colleagues and I discussed the presentation afterwards, we agreed that Laloux’s emphasis on cooperation, to the relative exclusion of competition, was essentially an expression of the progressive postmodern values frame. Indeed, healthy competition is an indispensable aspect of the “heroic spirit of business” that has improved our world immensely. And while business overall certainly needs to become more conscious, in order to improve it we need to clearly recognize its strengths as well as its weaknesses.
In his bio for the Conscious Capitalism conference program, Laloux wrote that “Reinventing Organizations has sold 200,000 copies and is considered by many to be the most influential business book of this decade.” The Conscious Capitalism book, however, is far more influential, and in my opinion more authentically integral because it better integrates the creative optimism of modernism. Despite Laloux’s “competitive” claim that he has surpassed Conscious Capitalism in his management theory, by giving him a prominent place at their conference, it is the Conscious Capitalism folks who in fact best demonstrate the power of inclusive “cooperation.”
I’m frequently invited to give video and audio interviews. And some of these I’m quite pleased with. Usually, however, I’m speaking to a general audience and starting from scratch, so to speak, in explaining the basics of my thinking.
One of these interviews however, which I recorded last year and recently had occasion to re-listen to, stands out as particularly good. This interview is published in a podcast series by German writer and publisher Tom Amarque. Tom’s questions were all very good, and I think this is the best podcast I’ve done since The Presence of the Infinite was published. So I’m reposting here on my blog so you won’t miss it.
Thanks for listening to this and other interviews on Tom’s excellent “Lateral Conversations” podcast series:
I’m happy to report that the recent Integral Incubator seminar I co-taught with Jeff Salzman turned out wonderfully. At the end of three and half days together our group felt a palpable sense of intimate camaraderie. And the process of presenting my latest thinking was very helpful in the development of the books I’m currently working on.
Now that our summer seminar is complete, I’ve had a chance to consolidate my public offerings, as described on this website’s new “Public Teaching page,” which includes the following options for public teaching, reproduced below. For more information on any of these options, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Public Speaking
On the following subjects, anywhere in the U.S. or Canada:
• The natural spirituality of goodness, truth, and beauty
• Growing out of America’s divided political condition
• Introduction to Integral Consciousness
• Other requested topics related to my books or online talks
Cost: travel expenses + negotiable honorarium
2. Experiential Seminars on Spirituality and Politics
My friend and collaborator Jeff Salzman and I have conducted a series of popular “Integral Incubator Seminars” focusing on evolutionary spirituality and politics. These three-and-a-half day seminars were held in Boulder, Colorado, in 2015, 2016, and 2017. The online headquarters for these seminars is the IntegralIncubator.org website. (You can also see more on this seminar series by scrolling to the bottom of this page.)
Although we won’t be doing this seminar in Boulder again for the time being, I am willing to travel to give a version of this seminar by request.
Group sizes from 10 to 60. Cost: contact me for details
3. Private Consultations
In person in Boulder or via Skype, on questions relevant to spirituality, politics, or philosophy
Cost: donation basis
4. Outdoor Spiritual Philosophy Adventures in the West
I’ve been an outdoorsman all my life, and love to share the remote beauty of the desert or mountains of the West, especially in the context of a teaching trip. Options which I’m qualified to guide include:
• Desert hiking in the Canyonlands of Utah, choice of hotel, car camping, or backpacking
• Mountain hiking in the Colorado high country, choice of hotel, car camping, or backpacking
• Singletrack mountain biking around Moab, Utah, hotel or car camping
• Multi-day supported road cycling tours in Colorado or Utah
• Customized Western adventures also available
Each trip will be personalized for the interests and abilities of the group. In addition to the hiking or riding, each trip features original talks harmonized with the magic of the location, together with experiential beauty practices in nature. I’m also an amateur naturalist and can share my knowledge of the land.
Group sizes from 2 to 12. Cost: trip expenses + negotiable daily stipend
For more information on any of these teaching options, please send an email to: email@example.com
The Institute for Cultural Evolution has just published the text and slides from my keynote lecture at Keystone College, in Pennsylvania. The 18 page lecture and slides provide a simplified and accessible description of my recommended approach to political evolution.
After the 2016 election, it has become clear that hyper-partisan political polarization is a symptom of a larger cultural divide that currently afflicts American society. Overcoming this divide requires a new “politics of culture” that can provide the necessary perspective needed to grow out of this fractious impasse—a condition which is paralyzing America’s government.
Only 2 spots left in the seminar …
The third annual Integral Incubator Seminar will be led by me and my close friend Jeff Salzman, ICE director and host of the Daily Evolver Podcast. Our complementary teaching styles provide seminar participants with a thoroughly rewarding experience. Here are some testimonials from past Integral Incubator Seminars:
“This was the most helpful experience I’ve had in bringing integral principles to life in practical ways. The term “intergal incubator” fit perfectly. I feel that incubating integral consciousness is bringing a new emergence to life for me. After studying integral philosophy for 20 years, it is now taking practical shape for me.”
— Donnal Walter
“I loved the weekend – thank you, thank you, thank you. Integralists have the reputation of being overly cognitive—there was incredible heart and passion here.”
— Mary Reese Folger
Follow this link to the seminar’s webpage:
The 2017 Integral Incubator Seminar will focus on both integral politics and the science-based perspectives of evolutionary spirituality.
On the political side, participants will learn about the emerging politics of cultural evolution, as well as how an understanding of interdependent polarities can help build political will and make our democracy more functional.
On the spiritual side, we’ll be exploring integral spiritual practice and the finer points of the “spiritual teachings of evolution.” Our exploration of spirituality is pluralistically inclusive and designed to help participants further develop their own motivating “energy of higher purpose,” in service to the greater good.
Thank you for your potential interest in our summer seminar, and for your ongoing interest in my work.
On Wednesday, April 19, NPR Phoenix reporter Steve Goldstein interviewed Steve about his recent ICE essay: Appreciating the Upside of Nationalism. The interview can still be heard online on the radio station’s website: theshow.kjzz.org (to listen press the ‘play’ button on The Show’s April 19th broadcast blue heading bar, then scroll forward to the beginning of the interview at: 10:33). At the end of the interview Goldstein insightfully asks about the role of pride in maintaining positive forms of nationalism. Steve responds by pointing out that while progressives have done well to help us atone for America’s past crimes and abuses, it is also very important to recognize the significant good that America has done, and how it remains a beacon of hope for many people worldwide.