In his award-winning paper, "Searching for Centaur: Retrieving Integral's Lost Self-Identity," Chris Dierkes makes a compelling case for recovering several key concepts from Wilber's early writings that have fallen in recent years into general disuse -- namely, the centaur (as metaphor for the integral / existential phase of development), vision-image (as a complement to, if not a more fundamental and encompassing process than, vision-logic), and intentionality.  While integral consciousness now is often described in terms of "touching all the bases" and the capacity to hold and integrate multiple perspectives, Dierkes points out that Wilber's initial, existentially informed depictions of centauric consciousness were richer and more embodied.  Dierkes lists four essential components of centauric being:

1.    bodymind integration (aka somatic existentialism and noetic existentialism)  
2.    spontaneous will, supersensory awareness, vision-image cognition
3.    existential concerns of life and death, being and non-beingness, finitude.
4.    the proper basis for true spiritual transpersonal ventures

Together, these qualities constitute an integrated, existential-organismic, postformal identity which Wilber has argued serves as an important foundation for, and bridge to, the later, stable emergence of transpersonal stages of development.

I had not noticed the gradual creep away from references to the centaur in integral thinking, possibly because I teach transpersonal psychology and regularly appeal to Wilber's older works, especially to refer to the centaur stage -- and correlate and "unpack" it with further references to Jung, Washburn, heart-centered existential therapy, etc -- but I think Dierkes makes a good point that more recent descriptions of integral consciousness suffer, in some regards, from the shift towards AQAL, perspective-centric modeling, which arguably still presupposes the "basis" of the centauric distinctions, but without making them explicit.  For instance, in Integral Psychology, we still find references to the centaur, but mostly on the charts (e.g., as a name for Fulcrum 6), without much further development or explanation.

Similarly, I had not noticed the shift from Wilber's early appeals to "vision-image," which as its name suggests emphasizes imagination or imaginal cognition, to his later reliance on "vision-logic" or "network logic" as synonyms for integral cognition.  Besides simply not paying attention well enough :-), I think I may have done this because I've related "vision" itself as an appeal to the imaginal, and I've often described the emergence of "vision-logic" to students as contingent on the resurgence and reclamation of the autosymbolic imagination, now integrating formal operational capacities.  But the "imaginal" cannot be limited to "vision," admittedly; and Dierkes is right to emphasize, in my view, that Wilber's earlier descriptions of vision-image involved a richer constellation of capacities and dimensions -- unconscious, feeling, emotional, perceptual, linguistic -- than descriptions of vision- or network-logic typically do.  

One of the consequences of such a shift is that the importance of the emergence of integral "being" depending, in significant part, on feeling-work, existential inquiry and will-work, and imagination, as much as on increasing cognitive perspective-taking capacity, tends to be downplayed or overlooked -- even if unintentionally so.  

Dierkes discusses this potential loss in detail in his paper, and also provides several interesting case studies from his work with clients to illustrate his understanding of the importance of working with vision-image and intentionality in the emergence of stable centauric (or mermaidic) identity, so I encourage interested readers to check out his paper.  Members of this forum will also likely be interested in his unpacking of the possible political, economic, and spiritual consequences for integral thinking of this subtle shift away from the centaur and vision-image (see pp. 51 ff. for this discussion).

There is much more in this paper that is worth discussing, but I do not want this initial review to be too long, or to provide too many spoilers.  But we can take up discussion of these things in the thread below, for anyone who is interested and wants to engage with this stimulating paper.

[ITC 2015 Papers can be downloaded here.]

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I've read the first 13 pages so far - the first section on Wilber 1 (The Structures of Consciousness and No Boundary). 

First off, it's nice to see someone articulate something of the dividing lines of Wilber 1-5, which to me is one of those topics that everyone else seems conversant with, but which I've never fully understood, and haven't found where or who set up these different Wilber stages.

Also, I've never read Wilber's early or middle books. The furthest I go back is what is referred to as Wilber 4 (SES, Marriage of Sense and Soul, Brief History, and Theory of Everything), so it is very interesting to get a sense of these earlier works.

I like what is being said about the reconnection and integration of body and mind. It resonates, and it's nice to know Wilber put his attention here early on. It seems there's a nice connection to Theresa Silow's paper on "Gebser's Structures of Consciousness and Somatic Development."

A work of great observational insight and reconstructive significance, doing profound justice to the conference theme of the year. Like Bruce mentions in his opening review, the gradual move from the psychic-visceral-imaginal to the cognitive-perspectival wasn't apparent to or detected by me, and Chris' meticulous thematic reconnaissance does immense service to both the pedagogy and the community. 

In a way the paper zeroes in on what might be a highly significant aspect of reclaiming for the Integral movement : the humanistic- existential centauric self. I reproduce from page 71 of the Atman Project the 'specification' of the centauric self for the benefit of readers who may not have access to the books cited in the paper.

THE CENTAURIC SELF

Cognitive Style

trans-verbal vision image, high phantasy, synthesis of primary and secondary processes; transconsensual

Affective elements

Prehension, spontaneity. Impulse expression, supersensory, heartfelt

Conative factors

Intentionality, creative wish, meaning, spontaneous will, self-actualization, autonomy

Temporal mode

Grounded in present moment, aware of linear time as exfoliating from the present

Mode of self

Integrated, autonomous, transbiosocial, total bodymind being

I list below 5 points that come up for me as I metabolized the paper:

1) The Integral Reclamation Project, if we can call it that, is then the organismic experiencing of the world in its full range of pleasure and pain, hope and injustice, creative novelty and systemic dysfunction; and structuring (or hacking) that experience to resuscitate, heal and rebuild our living presence in its emergent totality, individually and collectively. 

2) I do not mean to imply that as integral practitioners we are not doing the above. However, having observed both academic and spiritual circles in/among my own physical vicinity and contact base, I notice that years of disembodied cerebration and compliance with institutional anachronisms have tended to desiccate many otherwise-bright people, shorn of the simple and earthy delights of being. In addition to noetic and somatic existential work as described in the paper, vision-image work, it seems to me, needs to incorporate the higher doses of sensual love and communion, the stretch-and-bend of both entheogenic experience and physical exercise to fully unearth and integrate the range of chakra systems and energy meridians. Much of that seems to lacking today, either due to lack of personal initiative and/or socio-cultural norm constraints. This is a subject of another paper perhaps.

3) This may sound a bit off-limits and speculative, but is it possible that Wilber’s own life experience mirrors the shift in the focus of his writing across Wilber 1 to 5, as outlined in this paper? Is it possible that because of life circumstances and health issues, Ken himself moved too quickly from the more earthy terrains of felt experience to the heady terrains of cognitive complexity? I broach this inquiry more so that we can reexamine our own lives and find ways to reclaim this balance of image and logic.

4) I agree whole-heartedly with the points made in Part III: the non-critical (almost helplessly apathetic) acceptance of the neo-liberal agenda with endorsements of relatively superficial (even if well intentioned) initiatives such as Conscious Capitalism , a hasty and premature disavowal of the green meme usually in support of the orange, the positivist and simplistically unilinear assumptions of progress, all of which are often exemplified in forums such as the Daily Evolver (supposedly one of the mouthpieces of the Integral Movement?). To revive the role and contribution of Vision-Image in transcending social conformity and effectuate the isomorphic correlation of individual integration with a centauric civilization, what would it take to design an Integral Cycle of Knowledge for its sustained instantiation: injunction, experience, interpretation and confirmation? How can we collaborate on that project? 

5) I have a slightly different take on the Super Human OS project though – even as I agree than being human first is critical before superhuman aspirations, I think that specific initiative is speaking to the orange audience in their language. The invitation extended to a large segment of the agentic population (even if the agency is headstrong and somewhat heart-bereft) would have a much lower chance of ‘success’ if communicated in the usual second-tier language. I speak of the marketing aspect now which I find many integral folks respond from their vantage point of perception, while missing the vantage point of the intended audience. Of course, the actual course needs to ground the vision-image experience PRIOR to vision-logic. Whether the aspiration of attracting the Orange audience into the fold of Integral thought is a viable or appropriate objective, is another matter altogether.

Neelesh,

Great to see you here again! I very much appreciate this summary & analysis - you've made many excellent points here. 

Thanks and good to see you too, David. 

I think the sociograph is another very powerful idea raised in the paper. There is a strong case for collaboration of Integral developmentalists with academic cultural analysts/ anthropologists.

The World Values Survey does that at a simple 2x2 level, though I am not sure in our current global climate how much of that is used for action beyond analysis.

There are more sophisticated models which allow a wider appreciation of facets in a national culture, such as this:

http://geert-hofstede.com/national-culture.html

We are perhaps several decades away when these things are looked at seriously for proactive work. Unlikely to happen until the neo-liberal power structures dissolve.

Hi Neelesh - I am enjoying your takes on the paper and the geert-H site is an education for me.

I'm wondering where you found the particular 2x2 sociograph you inserted? I didn't fint it on the Geert-H.

ambo

Neelesh Marik said:

Thanks and good to see you too, David. 

I think the sociograph is another very powerful idea raised in the paper. There is a strong case for collaboration of Integral developmentalists with academic cultural analysts/ anthropologists.

The World Values Survey does that at a simple 2x2 level, though I am not sure in our current global climate how much of that is used for action beyond analysis.

There are more sophisticated models which allow a wider appreciation of facets in a national culture, such as this:

http://geert-hofstede.com/national-culture.html

We are perhaps several decades away when these things are looked at seriously for proactive work. Unlikely to happen until the neo-liberal power structures dissolve.

I am curious what the injunctions,the practice sets, might be for: (1) will development ("willpower") and for (2) existential groundedness-and-orientedness (as living this reflexively and spontaneously). Thanks.

A couple examples come to mind for me:  Psychosynthesis has a number practices for developing (they actually prefer an alethic model of "uncovering" or "disinhibiting") the will, and you find similarly oriented practices in the Diamond Approach (for working first with superego -- which often is an expression of "false will," the disengagement of which exposes the "hole" around authentic will; entering into and working in the "hole" to recover the expression of authentic will.  This can lead to activation of the central channel, among other things).  Bugental's inward-searching method is good for existential groundedness-and-orientedness, though I think Diamond Approach (again) might offer an even more developed version of that.  And although I haven't seen them often referenced in this context, I also believe aspects of the Tibetan ngondro are good for these purposes.

Thanks, Bruce - perfect. I am aware of the uncovering hole practices of DA and also of ngondro, and if I have questions about the rest, I'll contact you privately, if that is okay. Bog thanks, bro.

About sociographs - the categories here seem to be translations from the UL to the LL and LR, which is one way. But to what about more robust LL and LR methods and categories that are not so UL centric either directly or indirectly? As with four planar social being of CR.

I like Chris's diagnosis of integral histories as modernist - I would add a kind of naive modernist narrative logic at that. Integral histogriography, for me, is a MAJOR lacuna in our communities.

I would add that Irvin Yalom offers some useful insights on working with and developing the will, as well.  (And this essay contains a good introduction to Assagioli's "psychosynthetic" model of will and will work.)

Regarding historiography as a lacuna in Integral theorizing, I think you made that point very well in your ITC presentation (and I look forward to reading your paper if you engage with that critique further there).

Hello Ambo,

Here is a write-up on WVS:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Values_Survey



Ambo Suno said:

Hi Neelesh - I am enjoying your takes on the paper and the geert-H site is an education for me.

I'm wondering where you found the particular 2x2 sociograph you inserted? I didn't fint it on the Geert-H.

ambo

Neelesh Marik said:

Thanks and good to see you too, David. 

I think the sociograph is another very powerful idea raised in the paper. There is a strong case for collaboration of Integral developmentalists with academic cultural analysts/ anthropologists.

The World Values Survey does that at a simple 2x2 level, though I am not sure in our current global climate how much of that is used for action beyond analysis.

There are more sophisticated models which allow a wider appreciation of facets in a national culture, such as this:

http://geert-hofstede.com/national-culture.html

We are perhaps several decades away when these things are looked at seriously for proactive work. Unlikely to happen until the neo-liberal power structures dissolve.

I think some traditions consider the Hara (also known as the Kath Centre or Tan-t'ien) as the kinesthetic and energetic epicentre of will, or more accurately the 'threshold of non-doing' beyond which things tend to happen on their own accord without much 'effort'. Meditations such as Zazen seemingly use the Hara as one of the focal points for concentration.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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