With the rise in our time of (integral) interspirituality, trans-lineage spiritual practice, "dual citizenship" religious allegiance, Polydoxy, and so on -- and with Sloterdijk's call in "God's Zeal" for a  mature (not merely relativist) polyvalent understanding of transcendence, beyond monotheism -- I am wondering what totemic identity Integralists might embrace.  Can we describe ourselves as spiritual magpies?  This would seem to invite postmodern or post-colonialist criticism, and rightly so:  the magpie is a notorious thief, a pilferer of whatever shiny objects it finds lying about in others' homes and yards, and from here it is no stretch to think of colonialists' raiding of other cultures for whatever baubles they can lift and hoard -- what Faber and Keller call the "piracy of an appropriative pluralism."  And yet there is something charming and even venerable about the magpie as well:  while a willful transgressor of boundaries, it is also a lover of beauty, wherever it is found, with a knack for gathering the most unlikely treasures and weaving them together into new, habitable spaces. Faber and Keller contrast interreligious piracy with polyphilia, a multiplicitous love and love of multiplicity, as that which "may better resist competition and colonization than mere ethical ecuminism."  An integral approach, in this polydox register, is not a mere subsumptive inclusivism, but a perichoretic love which recognizes that "difference is ... inherently connective."  It is a polyphilic sensibility, which both insists upon the sacredness of, and which amorously transgresses, the boundaries of identity and culture, in the interest of a "convivial polydoxy of living together mindfully and nourishingly."  In this polydox We space, we are free to be dual or multiple religious citizens, or we may maintain primary allegiance with a single tradition -- but even in the latter case, we cannot help but be fecundated by one another.  Our nests will be increasingly lined with treasures that Others' have wrought, which we have taken up into the dark and glittering spaces of our own generative (en)closures.

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I liked it enough to single out "notorious, thieving magpies" in my reply!

Which is to say, whether I think it is a good totem symbol or not, I think your selection and description and mood swirls into the Dionysian Cultural Spirit.

Balder said:

Ah, yes, I like the bees as well, and in fact just this morning was thinking of the Dzogchen saying which invokes identification with three animals: bees, which gather the nectar of teachings from far and wide; deer, who retire to quiet corners of the forest to digest what they have consumed; and lions, who roam without fear in the world.

However, I was also hoping you'd like the magpie reference -- since I was deliberately taking a somewhat dislikable and shallow totem and hoping to rehabilitate its associations, and since you also have a fondness for unscrupulous wags...

Oh, wow, Heckle and Jeckle!  I'd forgotten they were magpies...  That's funny.

I wrote the opening post on a lark (oh, sorry, unintended bird pun) last night, after reading the introduction to a Sloterdijk book in which he was referred to, in passing, as something of an "intellectual magpie."  I thought, Wilber is something of a intellectual and spiritual magpie as well, and the rest came from there.  I don't really identify with the magpie either, and usually it is used in a rather pejorative way, so I thought it would be a fun, fruitful shadow work exercise to pull out whatever gifts might be latent in this archetype.

"The difference between the Borg and an enlightened community serving the common good is that the Borg never formed a strong separate ego to begin with."

Debatable. In this wiki on the Borg Queen it quotes her as saying: "I am the beginning, the end, the one who is many. I am the Borg." Shortly after it notes she is not an individual, but later on it also notes:

"Many different theories have developed over the role of the Queen and the extent to which she may represent a hierarchical structure in the previously supposed-to-be Collective nature of the Borg. The exact nature of the Queen is still hotly debated and has many possible explanations."

Regardless of the Queen's individuality, I suggested 7 of 9 as the human-borg totem, more in line with the balance of individual and collective. And a 'human' face more indicative of the tech that is 'implanted' in each of us through our use of tools.

Then there's Picard's assimilation into Locutus, which forever after changed and haunted him when he was 'fixed.' I'd suggest that Picard also influenced the Borg when he was Locutus. Those episodes between Locutus and the Queen did not fully develop this plot line.

And Picard had to win and destroy her, partly because even though Star Trek had many communal elements, it was still the command-and-control hierarchical military structure endemic of modernist individual imbalance projected into the future.

I'd also suggest this is playing out in the capitalist resistance to Rifkin's evolution to the collaborative commons. We see the former accusing the latter of Borg-like communism or socialism, often due to the former's dysfunctional individual 'freedom' to control everyone else's freedom. Who is the Borg here? Resistance is indeed futile, for the healthy hybrid Borg is coming. The Hyborg?

Transhumanism is a relevant discussion, of which there are several varieties. See this prior forum discussion.

Speaking of the usual kennlingus wet-dream variety of transhumanism, the new movie Transcendence should provide ample ejaculations of this type.

I remember Wilber deconstructing the symbolism of Baphomet in one of his books. Could anyone link that here?

Joseph Camosy said:

The difference between the Borg and an enlightened community serving the common good is that the Borg never formed a strong separate ego to begin with.  There's no strong and hidden core of individuality in the Borg, there's only an outer shell (group conformist persona).  Only a strong ego consciously choosing to unite with others for the common good (while still retaining their individuality) can hope to foster liberation rather than enslavement.

A cube of only outer surfaces is but a half a cube, and as such is a symbol of enslavement.  In the symbollism below, "The Devil" is perched on a half-cube.

Does internet and computer game use foster independent thinking or conformity thinking?

As I was thinking of Rifkin's relationship to Wilber in terms of the progression of civilization, I was reminded of one of the latter's early totems for integral consciousness, the centaur. I'm still fond of it, as its indicative on the kind of integrative consciousness I've been promoting for some time. I wonder why it's fallen out of favor with the kennilinguists?

Yes, I like the centaur as an integral totem as well.  Now that you say so, I agree it seems to have fallen out of use in recent integral writings -- though I still regularly use it in my transpersonal psych classes.

I couldn't find anything from Wilber on Baphomet, but I did find this:

From "Grace and Grit"

TKW: So this dualistic world is a fallen world, and the original sin is the self-contraction, in each of us. And you're saying that not just the Eastern mystics but also the Western mystics actually define sin and Hell as being due to the separate self?

KW: The separate self and its loveless grasping, desiring, avoiding - yes, definitely. It's true that the equation of Hell or samsara with the separate self is strongly emphasized in the East, particularly in Hinduism and Buddhism. But you find an essentially similar theme in the writings of the Catholic, Gnostic, Quaker, Kabbalistic and Islamic mystics. My favorite is from the remarkable William Law, an eighteenth-century Christian mystic from England; I'll read it to you: "See here the whole truth in short. All sin, death, damnation, and hell is nothing else but this kingdom of self, or the various operations of self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking which separate the soul from God and end in eternal death and hell." Or remember the great Islamic mystic Jalaluddin Rumi's famous saying, "If you have not seen the devil, look at your own self." Or the Sufi Abi 'l-Khayr: "There is no Hell but selfhood, no Paradise but selflessness." This is also behind the Christian mystics' assertion that, as the Theologia Germanica put it, nothing burns in Hell but self-will.

TKW: Yes, I see. So the transcendence of the "small self" is the discovery of the "big Self."
KW: Yes. This "small self" or individual soul is known in Sanskrit as the ahamkara, which means "knot" or "contraction," and it is this ahamkara, this dualistic or egocentric contraction in awareness, that is at the root of our fallen state.
But that brings us to the fourth major point of the perennial philosophy: There is a way to reverse the Fall, a way to reverse this brutal state of affairs, a way to untie the knot of illusion.

TKW: Ditch the small self.

KW: [Laughing] Ditch the small self, yes. Surrender or die to the separate-self sense, the small self, the self- contraction. If we want to discover our identity with the All, then our case of mistaken identity with the isolated ego must be let go. Now this Fall can be reversed instantly by understanding that in reality it never actually happened - there is only God, the separate self is an illusion. But for most of us, the Fall has to be reversed gradually, step by step.
In other words, the fourth point of the perennial philosophy is that a Path exists - a Path that, if followed properly, will lead us from our fallen state to our enlightened state, from samsara to nirvana, from Hell to Heaven. As Plotinus put it, a flight of the alone to the Alone - that is, from the self to the Self.

And from SES:

There seems to be a general formula running through most of the reenchanting ecophilosophers, and it is some version of: rationality is the Devil, Gaia is the Goddess.  One finds variations on this standard formula not only in Berman and Roszak, but in most of the "new paradigm" theorists, virtually all of the ecofeminists, and virtually all of the ecomasculinists (deep ecologists).

And I believe it has a fairly simple explanation. In Up from Eden I suggested that the God of one stage of evolution and development tends to become the Devil of the next. What at one stage is worshiped and identified with becomes at the next stage precisely that which must be transcended, fought, and differentiated from: the God of one becomes the Devil of the next, becomes a reminder of what we once were and should not slide back into, that slide being "sin," devolution, regression, retreat.

Thus, the "Pan" God of the pagan religions (half human, half animal) became the actual personification of the Devil for monotheism. And at the next stage, when Rea­son became the God of the Enlightenment, the God of monotheistic and mythic reli­gions became the oppressive Devil of free thought and full human potential-the God of mythic religions now had to be fought, overcome, transcended: it became the Devil of the Enlightenment.

Likewise, since the postmodern world is beginning to move into postrational modes, the time is ripe for Reason to start looking like the great Devil. That reason ideally should be transcended and included doesn't really matter: what tends to hit people first is the difficult task of actually differentiating from a structure which gener­ations revered as the Divine itself-the God of Reason-and in that difficult differenti­ation, fine distinctions about "transcend and include" are not often translated into mass consciousness: reason starts to the look like the great Devil.

But if reason has become the great Devil, where is the new God? If the World Soul (the structure actually awaiting the postrational reception) is simply confused with Gaia, then Gaia becomes the new Goddess, the new Spirit, and we have the standard eco-formula: reason is the Devil, Gaia is the Goddess. Which then translates into a thousand derivative forms: reason is bad and divisive, Gaia is good and wholeness; reason is nasty patriarchy, wholeness is sweet matriarchy; reason is authoritarian, Gaia/wholeness is freedom; and so on through a crashing and crushing series of dual­isms meant to announce the New Dawn.

In other words, I believe that in many cases a good and true intuition of the World Soul is being filtered through what is in fact the old structure of the Eco-pole of the fundamental Enlightenment paradigm, the flatland embrace of empirical mononature (or the flatland system of Gaia) as God (or Spirit or Goddess).
This is why most of these theories do not even begin to escape the flatland para­digm-which is why they so easily confuse great span with great depth and thus can embrace Gaia as being "more whole," instead of seeing that it is simply bigger but more shallow: confusing bigger with better is the flatland paradigm.

And all of this plays directly into the standard regressive (and "reenchanting") trend of the Eco-approaches: analytic reason is simply condemned, for the most part (a certain lip-service aside) and not also included. These approaches are therefore constantly tending to go prerational, as we have repeatedly seen (Berman and Roszak being only two in a long line of retro-embracers). And since Gaia per se (the biosphere per se) is regressive as well, we thus have the standard regressive slide into an egocen­tric/geocentric stance that marks so many of these approaches.

Wilber, K. (2000). Sex, ecology, spirituality : The spirit of evolution. Boston: Shambhala.

This flatland embrace (mock transcendence and dissociation) that Wilber writes about is what I'm referring to when  describing the Borg cube, or the half-cube of "The Devil" card, or operating from merely a conformist persona, or my description of a cube of surfaces only.  What is this phenomena?  I would call it a collective complex (a dissipative structure of sorts), where I think Bruce might use the term "enclosure".  Wilber would call it a structure or level (green or mean green meme).


andrew said:

I remember Wilber deconstructing the symbolism of Baphomet in one of his books. Could anyone link that here?

Joseph Camosy said:

The centaur has some very charming and some somewhat clunky dimensions. I like in particularly as an alternative to the Minotaur -- who looks like a man but has the mind of a bull or cow. A "herd" individual, so to speak. Reactive mammalian thinking. Neuromuscular habits and dangerous assertion posing as a human.

Centaurs reverse Minotaurs.

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