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Inquiry: What is the gift? Saturday, September 30, 2006 |

This is one of the subquestions in The Work I find useful, both for the initial statement and its turnarounds:

What is the gift in it? Or, what are three gifts?

I should'nt be sick. What are the gifts? Well, I get to rest. I get to find empathy with those who are sick, and are not able to live their lives as they would like to. I get to just be with my experiences, especially those my personality does not immediately like.

I shouldn't lose my eye-sight. What are the gifts? I get to allow others to help me. I can allow myself to be helped, to depend - to some extent - on others. I get to explore all my other senses - touch, sound, smell, taste, and explore them in a more rich way. A whole new world opens up for me.

I shouldn't die. What are the gifts? Well, any suffering or discomfort will end. I won't have to struggle with my life anymore. I get to pass the baton on to new generations. If something passes on beyond the death of my human self, I get to explore that.

For each statement, find three genuine gifts. And sit with it. Allow it to sink it. To penetrate. To seep into your being.

Aqal only for second tier folks? Not likely. |

A topic continued from the previous post:

The aqal model is often presented as only of interest to second tier folks, or maybe even only understandable by second tier folks.

That does not seem to fit my experience. To me, the aqal model is mainly just a practical tool, a way to make sure the four quadrants and the various lines and levels of development is taken into consideration.

If the person is strongly attached to an ideology which excludes either of the quadrants or any acknowledgment of human development, they may reject it. But this seems unusual.

Otherwise, if the four quadrants and development is not a foreign idea or experience, there is an opening there. It can fit into their existing framework.

And if there is also some curiosity about the world, or just an interest in practical tools, then there is more than an opening: there may be an active and alive interest in it.

So is an integral framework such as the aqal model only of interest to the supposedly very few at the second tier? Not likely. It seems that anybody with a somewhat open mind, a curiosity about the world, or an interest in maps and tools that work, would at least be receptive and maybe even actively interested in learning about and applying it.

I suspect that the strong passion for it may come more typically at second tier, but that does not mean that there is not a much wider audience for it than this.

What do other people think? Based on your experience, not extracted from any models.

A footnote

This is written from the perspective of the aqal model as quadrants and lines/levels, and otherwise relatively content-free.

For those at orange who feel that "spiritual" levels are too far fetched and not supported by personal experience or science, they can of course leave that out. For those at green who do not like the language of levels, they can use words such as widening circles or turns around the spiral to refer to the same. For those at amber (previously blue) who see the bible as an authority, they can keep that - and just be sure to include all four quadrants and the lines and levels, either interpreting the spiritual levels/lines within their Christian context or choosing to leave them out.

The opportunities are endless. Does it mean that the aqal model is watered down? Not necessarily. It just means that the basic framework of quadrants and levels is made available to more people, wherever they are at otherwise.

Those who see themselves at second tier can still use it that way of course, and refine it according to where they are at.

Nothing is lost, much is gained.

And this seems to be a more genuinely second tier approach. To me, any attempt to preserve the "purity" of the model by excluding folks from it - through using a particular language or insisting on the one right content, smacks of absolutism. While a more pragmatic approach, making the basic model available to as many as possible, seems more second tier. And, as mentioned, those at second tier can still refine the model to their liking.

It may be messy, yes. And people may use it in ways you don't like. But that's life. And it will happen anyway.

The aqal framework is in many ways as basic a tool as language, and holding it back or trying to preserve its purity is as futile as trying to preserve the purity of language. It evolves, lives its own life, is used by people for their own purposes different from yours, is mangled and goes in directions you don't like. That's how it is.

And this is of course from the green gifts: egalitarian, wanting to share, make something available to as many as possible. With the understanding that people will make it their own, reflecting exactly where they are at in terms of the quadrants and levels.

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Dangers of models |

In writing the aqal review of local organizations, and also talking with a friend yesterday who's very much into integral things, I am reminded of the dangers of Spiral Dynamics, and of any map, framework or model.

As with any map, or sets of ideas, it can be taken as a relative or an absolute truth, it can be used in service of shadow projections, and it can be used with more or less heart and empathy.

Relative and absolute truths

The clearest danger is in taking it as an absolute truth, to mistake the map for the terrain, to put more faith in and emphasis on what the model says rather than what the terrain is doing.

Seeing any map as a relative truth, it becomes a tool of temporary and practical value, an aid for navigating and functioning in the world. There is nothing absolute about it. Just a tool that works more or less well in any given situation. A tool with no inherent value, which can be modified and discarded as needed. It remains secondary to the terrain, to life itself.

Relative truth only: known or realized

One thing is to know this intellectually, that it is a map, a tool, a relative truth only, not absolute in any way. Another is to live from that realization.

Knowing intellectually that it is only a tool, I can still use it as a weapon. I can use it to cut others down, to affirm right and wrong views, to build up and preserve a particular identity, to see myself as right and others as wrong, to see myself as better and others as less good, to see myself as more evolved and others as less evolved, to divide the world into neat categories, to make the world into simple abstractions I can easily analyze and think I am right.

When it is realized more fully as a tool only, it becomes transparent. It becomes a thin, transparent veil of abstractions placed on top of the world. It can not so easily be used as a weapon because it is so clearly not substantial.

Shadow projections

Any map can also be used to affirm an identity. To split the world into I and Other, and us and them. To neatly divide the world into right and wrong. To build up, maintain and protect a particular identity.

Spiral Dynamics can be used to make me right and more evolved, and (some) others wrong and less evolved. It can be used to attack people who carry my shadow, such as the mean meme folks at any level.

To me, it seems that Ken Wilber does this, in particular towards the mean green meme and those he sees as living from this. He seems to have a personal hangup about them. A need to put them in place. To distance himself from them. To prove that he sees it more clearly than them. To thoroughly beat them up intellectually.

This is of course a projection from my side, because I certainly know this from myself. I did it when I wrote the aqal review of local organizations, and daily in many other ways. It is a partly blind and partly seen projection.

And my own projection is independent on whether it happens for KW as well. Acknowledging my own projection here does not say that it does or does not exist for him as well.

Still, other than seeing KWs attacks on the mean green meme as a partly blind shadow projection on his part, I cannot find any reasonable explanation for it (which does not mean that there isn't one).

It seems that his strategy only serves to alienate folks at the green level, to push them away from any interest in an integral framework. I may be wrong here, but my limited understanding of the second tier is an ability to meet people where they are at, and using a language they understand.

Also, why focus the attack on the mean green meme, when that one is relatively harmless compared to the mean amber and blue? Again, if the purpose is to help people beyond green into second tier, then meeting them at where they are at seems far more effective. And enjoyable.

Not ready?

On a related topic:

My friend seems to think that only a handful of people locally, maybe 10 (of nearly 200,00 people!), would be interested in learning about a more integral approach, so why even bother doing any form of outreach? I guess this is based on the statistics of how many are at second tier levels.

To me, this again is an example of where attachment to a map can cloud clearer seeing. Everything becomes filtered through the model, in spite of what the world itself may tell us.

I personally find that lots of people are interested in hearing about it, because the aqal model is really just a practical tool.

And as long as there is just a little opening towards acknowledging the usefulness of the four quadrants and the levels and lines of development, then there is interest. To me, it seems that nearly everybody seem to have this opening, unless - in very rare cases, there is a strong attachment to an ideology which excludes either some of the quadrants or any idea of human development.

I know people that would be considered amber in SD, Christian fundamentalists, who would be open for it. And people at orange who are interested. And certainly lots of people at green. Anybody who wants to explore tools and maps that are practical and pragmatic would be interested, and most do.

So to me, it seems cynical to assume that the aqal model is only of interest to a very small segment of the population. It seems that as with SD itself, it can be - at least intellectually - understood and used by folks at almost any level. It can become a useful tool for just about anyone at any level.

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Inquiry: US hellbent on driving itself into the ditch |

The US is hellbent on driving itself into the ditch.

  1. Is it true?

    Well, yes, it seems true in many ways. I can find innumerable examples, and the news is full of new ones daily.

  2. Can I absolutely know it is true?

    No. Each part of that statement can be defined in many ways and the US is not homogeneous. Also, I don't know what is the best path for the US, or the world, or myself.

  3. How do I react when I believe that thought?

    I experience a contraction and a hardening. There is a strong sense of being right. There is a split into I and Other. I look for evidence, and find it everywhere. I collect evidence, rehearse it in my mind, to support and maintain that belief. I feel alienated since I live in a country like that. I question why I live here. I think I should be somewhere else. I feel sadness over the many worldwide impacted by the US policies and what I see as the ignorance of the US population.

    Where and how do I experience it in my body?

    As a hardening in the chest area, and contraction in stomach.

    How do I treat others?

    I see US citizens as homogeneous, as an anonymous mass that is uninformed, mislead, deceived by media and politicians, ignorant about their own country and the world, narrow in their interests and concerns, oblivious about the larger picture.

    When I meet US citizens who don't fit that picture, I see them as exceptions so I don't need to change the general image described above.

    When I meet folks who agree, I see them as allies. I may talk with them to get my frustration out, and confirm that I am right.

    When I meet folks who disagree, I don't even want to talk with them - at least not about these issues. I secretly see them as uninformed, or if they seem informed - as dangerously egocentric or ethnocentric, behaving or supporting behavior that eventually harms all of us.

    How do I treat myself?

    As someone who is right. As someone who is informed, who sees things as they are. Who knows better. As someone who can't do much to change it. As someone who can't engage in conversations with those who disagree.

    What images comes up when I have that thought?

    Images of a population mislead by media, corporations and politicians. Of US initiated and led wars, bringing massive suffering to millions of people. Of US policies that are unbelievable short-sighted, harming and destroying communities, ecosystems and lives.

    Of US policies that seem consciously aimed at destroying ecosystems, health, communities and any sympathy towards the US left among people around the world.

    When did I first have that thought?

    In middle-school, when we first learned about the impacts of US policies around the world, and within their own country (lack of universal health care, etc.). Since then, I have found evidence for it everywhere, including daily in the news.

    What do I get from believing that thought?

    I get to be right. To not be like them. To see it more clearly than they do. To find a tribe among those who share my beliefs.

    Whose business am I in?

    I am in their business.

  4. Who or what am I without the thought? (When hearing about that which I have used to support that belief.)

    Clear. Present. Take it in. Curious and interested in it.

    I am curious about what is going on, without reactivity or a sense of I and Other. There is a freedom here. A freedom to explore in a wide open field (absent of the boundaries that comes with identity, being right and wrong, I and Other, us and them.) I am interested in what is going on (absent of proving anything, supporting any identity, of seeing it as about them not also me.) There is a sense of intimacy, belonging, interest, receptivity, clarity, flow.

  5. Turnarounds

    (a) The US is not hellbent on driving itself into the ditch.

    Well, that is probably not the conscious motivation of these people (even if it is the effect.) They may think it actually serves them. They probably do the best they can, considering their circumstances (value development, available information, immediate needs that seem more urgent.)

    Also, the US is not homogeneous. There is a wide range of views and ways of life here, some which are quite life-centered and life-supporting.

    Also, I don't really know the outcome of all of this. Maybe it is exactly what is needed for nudging us towards a more life-centered civilization. And I don't even know that a more life-centered civilization is better, or serve us better, or is better of the Earth, or the Universe. I don't know.

    (b) The US is hellbent on staying on the road.

    Yes, that seems true. They are certainly hellbent on staying the course in terms of consumerism, world dominance, corporate globalization, intimidation of those with opposing views, and so on.

    Also, they are hellbent on providing a good life for themselves, even if I don't agree with many of their strategies.

    (c) I am hellbent on driving myself into the ditch.

    Oh... Yes, that is certainly true. Far more true. I am hellbent on driving myself into the ditch, when I believe the initial thought. I drive myself into the ditch by the misery, hopelessness, sense of alienation, and sense of something to protect brought up by the belief. Also, I see myself as already in the ditch since I live here.

    (d) I am hellbent on driving the US into the ditch.

    Yes, also as or more true. When I have that belief, I am hellbent on driving the US into the ditch - in my mind. I do it by finding evidence and run it through my mind over and over. Also, in the world, I get hellbent on driving this life-alienating version of the US into the ditch, by exposing what is going on and subversively working for deep culture change. And I see that it is not a comfortable motivation.


Climate Chaos |

Of the many current civilization-changing dynamics, climate chaos and peak oil are close to the top of the list. Either one has the potential to profoundly change global human civilization.

I went to a talk given by Alder (ProtoTista) yesterday, and was reminded of just some of the facets of climate change:
  • The Earth is a living system, a seamless fluid whole (of nature and culture, ecology and civilization)

  • Earth's climate can shift between attractor states relatively quickly. Major changes in the climate can happen over a few decades, or even within just one.

  • If, or rather when, the icecaps of Greenland and Antarctica melts, sea levels will rise about 30 meter. A large portion of the world's population, including most of the major cities, are at and close to current sea levels.

    Denial is not only a river in Egypt: It is amazing to me that people still invest in property near the ocean and close to current sea levels. Only a few places has the geography and capacity to protect these through dikes and dams. At most locations, buildings near sea level will have to be abandoned to the ocean, most likely within just a few decades. Why do people still invest and build there? It is not as if we don't know what is going to happen.

  • Much of the CO2 released since the beginning of the industrial revolution has been absorbed by the oceans, gradually making them less alkaline and more acidic. Bone, shell and choral formation is dependent on alkaline oceans. If it gets too acidic, it means the end of fish, shells and coral reefs, which is the end of the oceans as a supply of human food.

  • There are innumerable positive feedback loops at play, amplifying warming trends. The albedo is one: Current icecaps reflect light back into space. As they retreat, revealing darker land or ocean beneath them, more heat is absorbed, speeding the melting of the remaining icecaps.

  • The tropics are likely to get dryer, making currently fertile lands into deserts. This, and the rising sea levels, are likely to migrations of people at a scale beyond anything we have seen so far.

  • The global ocean currents, including the conveyor belt is likely to be disrupted, and this includes changes to the golf stream - possibly plunging Europe into a new ice age.

  • Global food production will be disrupted by rising sea levels (flooding land now used for food production), drought in equatorial regions, and whatever else may happen such as disruption to ocean life, European ice age, and crops destroyed by more extreme and unpredictable weather.

  • Mass migrations and disruptions to water and food supplies leads to issues of their own, including the potential for large scale violence in the form of wars and civil unrest. Even people at world-centric levels may revert to ethno- and ego-centric ways of operating.

  • If the shifts are at the extreme end of what is presently predicted, the main human population - vastly reduced from current numbers, may be found on Antarctica.

  • Due to lag effects, these changes cannot be stopped. Even if no more climate gasses were released, starting today, the effects of what has already been release will continue for 50 to 200 years into the future.

  • We need rapid and massive changes in how we organize our lives globally and individually to offset some of the future effects of climate gasses, going far beyond anything we see or talk about today.

  • We need to prepare - globally, regionally and locally, for the changes to come. What do we do if regional and global food production is disrupted? What do we do with massive migrations of people within and across continents? What do we do with epidemics due to changes in climate and moving populations?

  • And did I mention that phase transitions are rapid, and that all this may happen much faster than we imagine today?
And then there is peak oil, with its own issues (which, by the way, will not be the solution to climate change).

Earth talking to us

Climate chaos and peak oil are some of the ways the Earth talks to us.

We act, and there are consequences. We try an experiment, and get the data. We behave and there is feedback.

We have experimented with releasing massive amounts of climate gasses, and now reap the effects of that experiment.

We experiment with creating a civilization dependent on petroleum, and get to see what happens when the age of cheap petroleum rapidly is over.

The Earth talks to us. The question is how we listen, and what we do with what we hear.

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American Blackout, vote rigging and more Friday, September 29, 2006 |

American Blackout


American Blackout is a documentary outlining the disenfranchisement of legitimate black voters during the 2000 and 2004 elections.

American Blackout chronicles the recurring patterns of disenfranchisement witnessed from 2000 to 2004 while following the story of Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who not only took an active role in investigating these election debacles but also found herself in the middle of one after publicly questioning the Bush Administration about the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Some call Cynthia McKinney a civil rights leader among the ranks of Shirley Chisholm and Malcolm X. Others call her a conspiracy theorist and a 'looney.' American Blackout gains unprecedented access to one of the most controversial and dangerous politicians in America and examines the contemporary tactics used to control our democratic process and silence political dissent.

Vote Rigging Testimonial

And a related testimonial on vote rigging software.


Clinton Eugene Curtis; a former programmer for NASA and Exxon has finally come forward to testify before the US Judiciary that he was enlisted by Republicans to create a program which could guarantee Bush's presidential election victory.

A partial transcript:

Q: Are there computer programs that can be used to secretly fix elections?


Q: How do you know that to be the case?

Because in October of 2000, I wrote a prototype for Congressman Tom Feeney [R-FL]...

Q: It would rig an election?

It would flip the vote, 51-49. Whoever you wanted it to go to and whichever race you wanted to win.

Q: And would that program that you designed, be something that elections officials... could detect?

They'd never see it.

Additional election fraud indications

And then there is the almost impossible discrepancy between exit poll data and the actual outcome during the 2004 election (all in Bush's favor), strongly pointing to election fraud right there.


Common beliefs Thursday, September 28, 2006 |

A brief set of common beliefs for inquiry, including for inquiry circles.


Life is too ... hard, painful, difficult
Life should be easier
Life should make it easier for me to ... be myself, heal, enjoy myself
Life should support me more
Life should serve me better


God should take care of me
God should serve me better
God should make it easier for me
I am not connected with God
I should be more connected with God

The world

The world is ... a dangerous place, hostile
The world should ... make my life easier, serve me better
There is no room for me in the world
I am afraid of the world

My body

My body should be ... different, healthier, thinner, fit, serve me better
My brain should ... remember better, function better, serve me better
My body represents me to the world
If I ... eat differently, excersise, visualize better, my body would be healthier

If only

If only ... I would be ... happy, at peace, OK, content

I need to be loved

I need to be ... loved, liked, respected, approved of
I need ... my parents, spouse, children, friends, co-workers to love me
If I am not loved, something terrible will happen

People don't love me

Nobody ... loves, likes me
People don't love me
It is possible for people to not love me
It is possible to be unlovable
I am unlovable

People won't love me if...

People won't ... love, like, respect, approve of me if ... they knew all about me, they knew me as I really am, they knew me as I do, I am fully myself, I disagree with them, I don't live up to their expectations, I am better/worse than they are

I need to be a certain way for people to love me


I need to be safe
I need to do everything right to be safe
It is possible to not be safe

Attacked or ignored

People will attack me (if...)
People are waiting for a reason to attack me

People will attack me for no good reason
People will attack me for what I say
People will attack me and I won't know why
People will attack or ignore me if I speak and choose freely
People shouldn't attack me


People shouldn't lie
I need to live according to what I know is right, my own integrity
I need to live from integrity, authenticity


I can't get what I want
Nothing can help me
There is no point
I can't go on
I can't go on with/without ...
I can't deal with ... life, my life, this situation
I am a victim (of circumstances, life)
Inquiry won't work for me

I am different

I am/my problems are different

Worse/better than

Others are better/worse than I am at...
I am not good at ...
I need to be better at ...

Miss out

I missed out
I am behind schedule in my life (I should be further along)
It is possible to miss out


I am alone
It is possible to be alone
I need ... in my life (in need a partner, I need her as a partner, I need more friends, I need better friends)
I can't be happy without her/him

My parents

My parents should have done a better job
My parents were not up to the task
My parents don't love me
My parents don't accept me for who I am

My children

I should have raised my children differently
My children should appreciate me (for what I did for them)
My children's life should be different
My children should make different choices in their lives
My child shouldn't have problems (be sick, have died)

Getting it

I don't get it
I need to ... get it, to know, understand, realize
It is possible for me to get it
It is possible for me to not get it

Something terrible

Something terrible will happen
Something terrible will happen if... I lose my job, I get sick, I die, she dies, I don't get it right
Something terrible can happen to me

Something is wrong

Something is wrong
Something is wrong with ... me, life, the world, others, democrats, republicans, God

Right and wrong

I am right
It is possible to be right
I never do it right
I know what is right
It is possible to know what is right

Good and bad/evil

I am never good enough
There shouldn't be evil in the world

I am needed

I am needed in the world
The world ... is better with, needs me in it
People need to hear what I have to say
The world ... needs me, my insights, my love (life, my family, my parents, partner, children, friends, community, work)

I am

I am ... (any label related to politics, ethnicity, age, gender, etc.)
I am a body
I am a human being
I am

Too much

Life is too much for me (to handle)
The world is too much for me
My problems are too much for me
My work is too much for me
Inquiry is too much for me (there are too many statements to inquire into)

I don't like

I ... don't like, can't stand, can't live with can't be around ... inconsiderate, rude, racist people
I don't like ... this weather, rain, cold, snow, windy, storm, thunder
I don't like him/her
I don't like people who are ... noisy, rude, crude, bigots, racists, belong to that political party

Knowing what to do

I don't know what to do
I need to know what to do
If I don't make the right choice, something terrible will happen
It is possible to know what to do
There is a right choice


It is possible to know truth
It is possible to know anything for certain
I need to know what is true


I am trapped
There is no way out
I am stuck
I don't see my way out
I need to get out of this

Don't have anything to share

I don't have ... anything, any gifts to share
People won't be interested in what I have to offer
People won't listen to ... me, what I have to say
Other people have more interesting things to talk about
What I have to say is obvious and not important
Everybody already knows it


I need success
I am not worthy of success
I won't be successful
It is possible to be successful (not successful)


I need to ... belong, find my place
Life should make it easier for me to ... belong, find my place
I don't belong ... in the world, in life, in this society, in this culture
There is no room for me in the world


I am not worth anything
I am inferior/superior
I am only a piece of dirt
I only take up space
I'll never amount to anything
I'll never succeed
I am never good enough


I don't have time
I will never get it all done
There is not enough time
People should be on time
I need to be on time


I don't have enough
I don't have enough money (I need more money)
I am not able to make money (enough money)
I can't handle money
People with money are ... hoarders, corrupt, have sold out
People without money are ... losers, outsiders
If I lose my money, something terrible will happen
I need to know how to invest my money
I need money to be respected (I need to be respected)
I need money to live a good life
I need money to get what I want out of life


I am too old/young
I shouldn't have to age
There is nothing good about aging
Old people are ... not respected, outcasts, victims, at the mercy of others
Old people ... get sick, lose their mind, lose control of their body and mind
Old ... bodies, minds fall apart

Sickness and death

My body shouldn't be sick
My body can be sick
She, him, they, I shouldn't ... die, have to die, have died
... shouldn't have died ... so early, in that way, in pain, from disease
I, she, him, they are going to die
I don't want to die
Death is ... terrifying, unjust, cruel
I, she, he, they, humans, Earth, life needs to survive


They need to ... change, do things differently
... the world, life, my life should be different
... they, she, he, I ... should be, need to be different
... the world, life, my life shouldn't change
I can't handle .... change, more change, unpredictable change
I won't be able to adapt to change
I don't want to live in a changed world


... overwhelms me (life, the world, my work, my family, my illness, my problems)
... shouldn't overwhelm me


The world should be without ... war, injustice, poverty, suffering, racism, abuse of power
People should be more ... engaged, informed, aware
People shouldn't be deceived by ... politicians, media, corporations


People shouldn't destroying the Earth
It is possible to destroy the Earth
I need to save the planet

Any of these may be good to explore. Maybe especially those that seem too true for inquiry...! It is obviously true, so why even inquire into them? Or the ones where something cringes in me... I believe that one, and am not sure I want to explore it. I certainly notice one or both of those come up for some of these statements.


Self as seeing (or absent), me as this human self, and other as the rest of form |

Another pretty obvious thing for those following KWs work:

I as seeing, me as human self, other as the rest of the world

When the sense of self shifts from the seen to the seeing, what is seen is divided up in two parts: me - as this human self, and other - as the rest of the world of form.

I am the seeing. Me is this human self. And other is the rest of the world.

Pretty simple.

And at the same time, the me and other is clearly seen as segments of the seamless fluid world of form. The dividing line between me and other is just for convenience's sake, for practical reasons, as an aid for this human self to function and orient in the world of form. There is a demarcation line, for practical reasons, but it is just an abstract overlay.

I am the seeing that the world of form happens within.

Realized selflessness, and still me as human self and other as the rest of the world

Then, there is the realization that I am the Ground the seeing and the seen happens within and as, and there is no I inherent in any of it.

Even here, in realized selflessness, this human self is still me and the rest of the world other.

And here, it is even more clear that there is no inherent difference among any of these. It is all Ground in its many forms, Spirit playing, emptiness dancing.

The only difference is a practical one: there is still a functional connection with this particular human self. So, for purely practical reasons, it is labeled me.

And as the rest of the world of form continues to evolve, this human self continues to develop.

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Identification versus development |

It is interesting (although pretty obvious I guess, to those exposed to KWs work and that of others) how identification and development can be seen as somewhat independent of each other.

Shifting identification and sense of self

In the previous post, I mentioned how identification - the center of gravity, the sense of self or I - shifts from unformed, via the seen - our human self, to the seeing itself, to nowhere to be found - realized selflessness.

And how one polar end is unformed and nonfunctional - as in a baby, where the other polar end - realized selflessness, can engage with and use everything explored through previous identifications.

In Spiral Dynamic terms, the identification moves up the spiral and explores a new way of functioning at each turn of the spiral, and all of these are available - and can continue to mature and develop, within realized selflessness.

Development of this human self

There is somewhat of a dependence between the development of this human self and where on the spiral the sense of identity is, and there is also somewhat of an independence between the two.

The separation of the two is most clear when there is a realized selflessness, and this human self still continues to heal, mature and develop indefinitely - as long as it is around. The sense of self remains the same, absent (!), yet the me - as this human self, continues to develop, and develop, and develop, as part of the general evolution of the world of form.

I guess this is why the sense of self is a separate line of development.

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Spiral of problems and resolutions Wednesday, September 27, 2006 |

If we look at the lines of development as spirals or widening circles, as many do, then it seems that one of the drivers of development is a spiral of problems and resolutions.

In a line, each level of development creates particular problems, often in the form inherent contradictions and unpleasant feedback from the world, and the next level of development is a partial resolution of these problems, which in turn creates new problems, and so on.

Lots of people have of course explored this in detail, yet I am aware of very little of it. But if we are going to give some local presentations on the aqal model, it is probably good to look at this a little more and find some examples.

Let's look at value memes from Spiral Dynamics, and a few examples of problems of resolutions as we move into widening circles...


This is an individualistic and ego-centric level, and an example is the terrible twos, or the cowboy of the wild west, or rebels of any stripe.

The problem here can be a form of rampant and ego-centric individualism, which in the end hurts everybody.

And the resolution is, yes, rules, conformity, and an emphasis on authority, community and tradition. This is...


An example here, well known in the US, is a Christian fundamentalist, or an Muslim fundamentalist, or any form of absolutism or fundamentalism. Rules, authority, tradition, law and order, rule. There is an emphasis on the group, and this is the first ethno-centric circle.

For the Christian fundamentalist, the problems inherent in amber may take the form of lack of individual freedom, choice and expression, and also problems explaining the inherent contradictions in the scripture (if the Bible is the word of God, why are there two creation stories, and so on) and contradictions between science and the Bible (where do fossils come from, and how come millions of scientists around the world are so wrong, and if there is micro-evolution why not macro-evolution?).

The resolution here is...


Which again has an emphasis on the individual, but now in an early world-centric context, realizing the importance of universal human rights, a more equal access to opportunities and so on.

I am an individual, with certain rights and freedom to choose and express myself within some limits, and that is the case for others as well. And, by the way, the same is the case for businesses as well.

An example here is the typical westerner, well educated, embracing science and rationality as their guideline and consumerism as not only a good idea but a right.

The problems created by orange today are building up quickly and are difficult to ignore: Climate change, toxins and more due to an industry that does not take long-term effects into account, rampant consumerism not bringing the satisfaction it promised, sprawl creating reliance on cars and petroleum and reducing a sense of community, corporate globalization eroding human rights and quality of life for the poor, wars to protect remaining oil resources. Hierarchies in state, businesses and religion where those on top take advantage of everyone else. The news media gives plenty of examples daily.

The resolution is...


Green is egalitarian, value certain forms of diversity, and is even more world-centric than Orange. Its circle of care, concern and compassion expands to not only include all humans, but all life and future generations. This is where the web of life is beginning to be realized: we are all intimately connected, not only humans but all of life, and not only all of us alive today but past and future generations as well.

Community becomes more important than individual achievement. Taking care of life more important than consumerism. Consensus more important than the hierarchies of Amber and Orange.

One of the downfalls of Green is an over-emphasis on egalitarianism and consensus. Projects may fall apart because consensus is not possible, sometimes even for practical reasons such as getting everyone together to arrive at consensus, or because people get tired of it. Ideology can go before practicality here.

Also, the diversity is nice, but also a little fragmented. Isn't there some larger patterns here somewhere?

And an inherent contradiction in the Green view is an appreciation of diversity in some forms, such as ethnicity and age, yet a distinct lack of appreciation of the diversity of the spiral as a whole and of of non-green turns of the spiral in particular, maybe especially Amber and Orange.

So then we have...

Second tier

Where there is an appreciation of the spiral as a whole, and of each turn of the spiral. I can see each of them in the foreground in different phases of my own life, and I can see each of them in my own life right here and now as well.

The first tier segment of the spiral becomes a toolbox for me. I can take each one out and use them as the situation invites me to, and I can connect with others at the various phases of the spiral because I know and are familiar with these in myself.

This also means that a more integral view becomes possible. One that sees the connections among the diverse views from Green, and the diverse insights and approaches from the various turns of the spiral.

Other examples

So this is the value line of development, and we can probably find a similar dynamic in the other lines. And it seems that for many lines, the process goes from egocentric via ethno- or groupcentric to widening worldcentric. It is a process of widening circles. A spiral where each turn is a resolution to a previous dissonance, in itself creating a new dissonance.

:: Self line, who am I?

For example, in the Self line, we may start out with no particular sense of self.

But then we realize that there is a correspondence with certain inner movements - such as thoughts, and the movements of this body which seems to be around all the time. Hm... maybe that means I am this body? Yes, that must be how it is.

So I am this body, which has sensations, feelings, emotions and thoughts. And these seem to organize in a particular way, creating a personality. So I must be this personality as well, complete with a particular worldview and a particular identity.

But wait a minute. I realize that all of this, this whole human package, is seen. It comes and goes. Yet it seems that something does not come and go. What is it that does not come and go? It seems to be the seeing itself. Or maybe this space and awareness that all of this content happens within. Yes, I must be the seeing, the witness, pure awareness.

OK, so I am the seeing itself. But where is the line between I as the seeing and me and Other as the seen? Can I find that line anywhere? Where do seeing end and the seen begin? Hm... The seen does not really appear that different from the seeing itself. That too seem to be awake space. Also, there was no I in the seen, so maybe there is no I in the seeing either? There seems to be only this Ground of awake space, taking the appearance of seeing and seen when filtered through the idea of I. It is only this Ground of awake space, temporarily appearing as seeing and seen, and with no I inherent anywhere.

So the sense of self goes from absent, undifferentiated and nonfunctional, via a sense of self as a part of the seen, to a sense of self as the seeing, to a realization of an absence of I yet - typically - highly differentiated and functional, able to make use of everything explored through identification at the earlier turns of the spiral.

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Widening circles & practical versus right |

A couple of things that came up in a conversation today:

Levels as widening circles and turns around the spiral

The language of levels and tiers, as we know, puts off some people. Mainly those at green level. It just sounds too hierarchical and elitist for those at green.

Another way to word it is to talk about widening and more inclusive circles.

As we move along the developmental spirals, that is what happens: our view becomes more inclusive and comprehensive, the circles embrace more.

Using this language, the first turn around the spiral is the infrared and level one, the sixth turn is green and the sixth level, and so on.

This is one way to rephrase it when talking with greens without sacrificing accuracy, and more importantly, without turning them off simply due to language. (And this, turning greens off simply due to choice of language, is what KW sometimes choose to do - maybe to get their attention, or for some other reason. In any case, it is difficult for me to understand why, and to see that it has any beneficial outcomes.)

Second and first tiers: practical or right?

And here is one way to talk about the first and second tiers, very general and rough:

At first tier, the first bundle of turns around the spiral, it is about being right. My views are right, and you need to change. Which we all know is, yes, hopeless!

At second tier, the second bundle of turns around the spiral, it is about being practical.

There is an appreciation for the other turns of the spiral, an ability to access and make use of the gifts of the first tier turns, and an ability and willingness to meet people where they are at.

In short, it is a more practical approach.

Second tier as more pragmatic

And that is how the second tier tends to come up for me, the second set of turns: It is just about being more pragmatic, informed by a more integral view such as that of quadrants and levels of development.

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Local integral network? |

Many places have their integral pods and networks, and we have had some too - one study group that went for a while, and one I organized last year on integral practice.

Now, it seems that the time is ripe for something else to get going.

Some ideas for local activities

A brief, general menu of possibilities...

  • Catalyst group
    Forming a core catalyst and support group for whatever network may emerge.

  • Outreach
    Presentations, workshops, articles in local publications, website, email group, group blog, consulting with organizations or individuals who want to operate from a more integrally informed view.

  • Mapping
    Developing an AQAL map of our local community: Where do existing approaches fit into the aqal map? How can they reorganize to reflect a more conscious aqal approach?
What does it take to reflect a more integrally informed view?

In general, and as KW points out, each of the organizations and individuals will have to let go of their claim to absolute truth.

Some of the possible questions that come up:

What are some of the ways their organization, their insights, their existing maps and views, can be reorganized to reflect a more integrally informed framework? What would need to change? What can stay the same? Where in the aqal map do they land? Which areas are left out? How can they work with others to create a more comprehensive approach? What are their unique contributions?

Examples of realigned organizations

And then some (very rough and preliminary) examples of how this may look. This is of course going to be terribly generalized. (And will bring up some projections and food for inquiry later on...!)

These organizations are all led by friends or acquaintances of mine who I have the greatest respect and appreciation for. But that does not mean that their frameworks are somehow final, complete, without room for improvement, and not available to an integral overhaul :)

:: Prototista

Prototista is a quite remarkable community school for complexity theories, run by one person. It is based on solid and leading-edge science, although tends to leave out the left hand quadrant entirely, as well as the developmental dimension.

They do have somewhat of a practical application focus, so including the left hand of the quadrant, and an understanding of human development, would - most likely - make their approach more effective. Of course, many students there do that on their own, fitting the valuable contributions from Prototista into a more comprehensive framework.

:: Eugene Permaculture Guild

Well, Eugene Permaculture Guild is the premiere local example of the green value meme, although many of the individuals there are probably at wider and more inclusive turns of the spiral.

In general, they do cover all the quadrants pretty well. What they lack is an understanding of human development, and a willingness to meet and work with people where they are at.

As is typical for any first tier level, they want everybody else to be where they themselves are, they want others to "get it". (Hopeless! as Byron Katie would say.)

And as is typical for the green level in particular, they appreciate some forms of diversity - such as ethnic, age and so on, but do not appreciate the diversity of the spiral of development. They do not appreciate orange much, and even less amber, and see second tier folks as elitist or naive kooks.

To reflect a more integral approach, they could include this understanding of the lines and levels of human development, and how it plays out in community and approaches to sustainability.

Most importantly, it would help them meet people where they are at, using their language, addressing their values and goals, not needing or wanting them to change their basic values and worldview, just aligning and partnering around the shared interests of creating a more livable and life-supporting community.

It would help them be more effective in what they are doing. It would very much be a practical approach. It would help them avoid the usual burn-out from the old us versus them mentality and wanting them to be like us. And it would be more fun.

:: Permatopia

Permatopia is a comprehensive map to a more sustainable society, and another green level approach.

It is almost entirely right hand quadrant, which is OK as long as it is combined with more left hand understandings.

Maybe more seriously, it leaves out an understanding of human development. And this means that it is almost entirely uninteresting to anyone but other greens.

and orange says, nice but why should we care? Or, get away from me with that crazy hippie talk!

Second tier says, you are onto something very important, but you are leaving too much out to get me on board. The approach is not comprehensive and inclusive enough, and the way you do it alienates too many people. I'll put in my energy somewhere else.


There is a PROUT educational center here. It is a beautiful theory, obviously well-meaning, and it is integral in that it does cover all the quadrants and even an understanding of human development.

Its main weakness is that it seems highly prescriptive, from the overall framework and down into a good deal of detail. There is a particular way of doing it. It is content full where the aqal framework is content-free, allowing for anything to be plugged into it. So it tends to appear somewhat unrealistic, idealistic, utopian, rigid, a pipe dream.

In it's utopian idealism it appeals to some Green meme folks, but that is about it. It is difficult to see folks from amber and orange, at least in this culture, embrace it, and second tier folks may tend to see it as too idealistic and inflexible. One solution is of course to loosen up the content part, and allow other approaches which still fit within the general intention of PROUT.

:: Center for Sacred Sciences

CSS is under guidance of Joel who clearly lives from a Ground awakening and realized selflessness, and speaks beautifully about this, weaving together quotes and views from a wide range of spiritual traditions. There are also several others who have realized selflessness under his guidance, and who now function as occasional assistant teachers.

As inclusive their approach is in terms of drawing from a range of traditions, they also leave much out compared to an aqal perspective. They mostly focus on the upper left quadrant, although sometimes bring in quantum physics and the like from the right hand quadrants. And they do not address zone #2 views on the upper left quadrants. For instance, they altogether leave out the understandings of human development from western psychology.

Still, their main weakness may be in another area: Being somewhat stuck in the absolute. The focus is almost exclusively on realized selflessness, largely ignoring the human self and its health, maturity, and continued development before and after realized selflessness.

As far as I understand, KW talks about how an awakening, here realized selflessness, can cement the human self wherever it may be. And this is exactly my main concern with CSS. Their exclusive focus on realized selflessness leaves out attention to the health and development of the human self, and this can to some extent fix the human self where it is at.

Within the context of realized selflessness, there is an invitation to a continued and deepening healing, maturing and development of the human self. Many of the II associates understand and emphasise this, including Saniel Bonder and Genpo Roshi. Joel does not.

Of course, from the view of the absolute, he is right. Everything is Spirit. Everything is emptiness dancing, including what from a relative view is seen as an unhealthy or healthy, immature or mature human self - less or further along in its many lines of development.

Yet, it is also onesided. Existence has two faces: emptiness and form, ground and phenomena, Self and self. Or we can say the context of a sense of I or realized selflessness, and the content of this human self and the rest of the world of form.

And this content, this world of form, continues to unfold in always new ways. As this universe and planet, it continues to evolve. As this human self, it continues to develop.

If we emphasize only one, we leave out at least half of the story. In a way, we make God into far less than it is. We miss out on the invitation of consciously participating in the evolution of the world of form, within and as Ground.

:: Co-Intelligence Institute

CII does a wonderful job in gathering information about and promoting various approaches to collective intelligence, something which is sorely needed in our society, and maybe especially in our political system. I am not sure exactly where on the Spiral Dynamics spiral they are located, but most likely somewhere between green and
second tier, with a nostalgia for green.

In terms of the quadrants, they seem to do a pretty good job covering all of them. The widening circles of development seem to be mostly left out or in the background, probably because it clashes with the green aversion to anything that tastes of hierarchy and attachment to the egalitarian.

Maybe more seriously, green idealism here seem to abandon the effective pragmatism of orange and is not yet at the
more inclusive and deep pragmatism of second tier.

Orange knows how to get things done, yet ignores much in the process - and that is picked up by Green. Second tier also knows how to get things done, and now with a pragmatism that draw on tools and insights from any first tier levels, including the willingness and ability to meet people where they are at. At second tier, the idealism of green no longer gets in the way of getting things done.

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Rebirth: what does it mean and is it true, questions from different quadrants |

The problems outlined in the previous post can more simply be seen as a confusion of quadrants.

Left quadrants and past lives: what does it mean?

In a therapeutic setting, it is most useful to ask how do stories of past lives reflect what is alive right now? What is the meaning of these stories? This is the left quadrants, and in this case mainly the upper left.

Right hand quadrants and past lives: is it true?

From the right hand quadrants, we ask is it true? Is there rebirth? Is this story a story of a past life? This is the appropriate question for research.

Confusing the two

So it seems that the client in the story from Norway confused the two. She wanted to apply a right hand quadrant question in a left hand quadrant situation. It may even be that her therapist confused the two. If he was clear on this himself, he would probably made sure the client was able to differentiate as well, even before going into this.

It is understandable that the questions from the quadrants are confused at times, but it comes from - and leads to even more - confusion.

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They burnt me at the stake: stories as mirrors mainly |

I read a news article about a psychologist in Norway getting in hot water for using regression therapy, using stories of apparent past lives to get at what is alive right now.

According to the news article, he had told his client that she had been burnt at the stake in a past life, which would explain some of her problems in this life.

Problems with seeing the story as real

Of course, the problem here comes if the therapist and/or the client actually see these stories as somehow real, if they add another story saying that this is what really happened.

At the very least, it can be a sidetrack and distraction, taking focus away from the story as a reflection of what is very much alive right now.

The client may get weirded out in believing it is really a story about a past life, or that the therapist thinks so. This can possibly get the client in trouble, amplifying the initial problem and the apparent solidity of the stories around it. And it can also, for good reasons, get the therapist in trouble. This is apparently what happened in this case.

Any story as a mirror

Any story is a reflection of what is very much alive right now, they are mirrors. And this is independent of their apparent source: waking life, dreams, daydreaming, fantasies, active imagination, regression therapy, movies, books, religions, science.

They reflect what is alive in us right now, especially if they have a charge for us, small or big or any flavor.

And there are many ways to explore these mirrors.

Ways to using stories as a starting point for inquiry

In The Work, I identify a stressful belief triggered by the story and inquire into it. They shouldn't have burnt me at the stake. What is the turnaround? I shouldn't burn me at the stake. Yes, that feels more true. I am the one doing it, daily, over and over. I burn myself at the stake.

In the Big Mind process, I explore dynamics among some of the voices related to the story. I was burnt at the stake. I can explore the voice of the body, of self-preservation, the protector, vulnerability, victim, perpetrator, helplessness, impermanence, and then look at it all from some of the transcendent voices such as Big Heart and Big Mind.

In Process Work, I can unfold the process behind the initial images and story and see where it goes, following the bread crumbs back home to wholeness.

In active imagination, I interact with whatever characters are there, asking them what their role is, responding differently to the situations and see where the story goes now.

In all of these ways, the initial story becomes an access point into exploring what is alive right now, bringing it into awareness, allowing the knots to unravel.

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Red in tooth and claw Tuesday, September 26, 2006 |

I watched the BBC documentary Walking with Prehistoric Beasts last night, about the evolution of mammals from the demise of dinosaurs and up to today.

Since I was a kid, I have enjoyed nature documentaries. And since I got into systems theories in my mid-teens, I have been aware of the discrepancy between how many of them are made and what I would like to see.

Here is a simple and very general way to look at it, using the levels of consciousness outlined in the aqal model:

First tier documentaries

Nature documentaries can be seen as inherently orange or beyond. They draw on information, views, models, findings from orange level - or beyond - science.

At the same time, nature documentaries are often presented with lots of red or below mixed in, with a dramatic and sometimes exclusive emphasis on nature red in tooth and claw, dramatic struggles, everyone for themselves, and so on. (Even some of the BBC documentaries do this... which makes it look a little silly, as if twelve year old boys were the only audience for these programs.)

What we don't see as much yet are documentaries that take a green and beyond view: looking at cooperation, partnerships and symbiosis, at whole systems dynamics, at ecosystems and ecoregions as fluid wholes of matter, energy and patterns, of which individuals are just temporary forms, aspects and expressions.

Of course, if we look at nonhuman species, we will see a lot of the early levels (in particular infrared) as that's where they are at, so it certainly needs to be included. But it can still be presented within orange, green and second tier frameworks. A few documentaries already do this, and it may be more common in the near future.

I wonder what a blue take on nature documentaries would look? If religious fundamentalist, it would of course conform to whatever story told within their tradition.

Second tier documentaries

A second tier take on nature documentaries seems far more interesting, probably even for many first tier folks. Second tier takes on nature have the potential to easily be rich, fluid, engaging and thoroughly entertaining.

It would include a wide range of perspectives and levels, fluidly shifting among them and weaving them together into a more integral view.

It could use current science and an integral model (for instance aqal) as the overall framework.

And then include any or all of these...

Nature red in tooth and claw. The struggle for survival. The birth, survival, procreation and death of individuals.

Views on nature from various cultures and religious traditions. How do we humans relate to and view nature, filtered through a wide range of cultures and traditions?

How has scientific methodology and views shifted over time?

Cooperation, partnership and symbiosis in nature. An emphasis on communities within and among species, rather than individuals.

The views from ecopsychology and evolutionary psychology. How can an evolutionary perspective help us understand how humans function today? What role does nature play in our sense of belonging, quality of life and health?

Where is evolution going? What can we tell from past patterns? Where are current evolutionary nudges taking us as a planet and species?

A systems and holarchical view, looking at individuals, ecosystems, the Earth, the Universe as wholes within wholes. Each as temporary expressions of their subsystems and larger systems.

And if they were really brave: all of this as Ground or Spirit, as the many manifestations of Ground, as the evolution of form within and as Ground. As the form aspect of God evolving over time into more and more complex forms and expressions of consciousness. This is all emptiness dancing, and dancing in a way that appears to itself as evolution.

This is an approach that would offer something to just about anyone, and it would also offer something to each of these levels and areas in each of us.

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Cannot see zone #2 from zone #1 realm? Yes and no Monday, September 25, 2006 |

In slowly reading Integral Spirituality by Ken Wilber, I see that 99% of what he writes about goes straight in. It rings true, which just means that it fits nicely into my experiences and conscious worldview. It fits with how this personality is organized right now.

The one percent

And then there is that one percent where the question comes up: Is this true? It isn't, of course, in any absolute sense. But is is true in a relative way, as a useful model that fits available information? That is where the mind goes, as it does when beliefs does not fit what the world comes up with. We are drawn to it, trying to make some sense of it. Trying to find a resolution. At least if it is important enough.

One of these is the question of seeing zone #2 stages/structures in meditation or contemplation.

Zone #1 and #2: immediate awareness and stages of development

Zone #1 is whatever is alive in immediate awareness. It is what we explore through techniques such as mediation, self-inquiry, contemplation and so on. Zone #2 is the structures and stages of development, along any line of development, and these are commonly explored through studies of a number of people over time, first by finding the stages/phases of development within a certain line, then the sequence among them.

KW says that nobody has ever seen any stages in mediation or contemplation. It is true, in that these are theoretical constructs. (Which means that they can appear as a thought in mediation or contemplation, but that is a little different!)

At the same time, it may not be the whole picture.

The ways zone #2 shows up in meditation, self-inquiry and contemplation

For instance, through mediation or forms of self-inquiry, the widening circles of care, concern and compassion show up quite clearly. They are hard to avoid, as they permeate my whole human self - from view to emotions to interests to behaviors, and they are highlighted by whatever ethical guidelines my tradition has set up. These guidelines tend to be world-centric, so anything in me at ego- or ethno-centric levels will be highlighted and stick out as a sore thumb.

I find that for myself, these questions naturally come up in mediation and self-inquiry: Do I act in ways that only take myself, my human self, into consideration? Only my group? The whole of humanity, the earth, future generations?

These are questions that - I will guess - a majority of spiritual practitioners and teachers will be very much interested in. How do I show up now, in terms of my circle of care, concern and compassion? How wide are the circles, in my view, my emotions, my behavior?

Also, I may find that there are shifts over time. I may have acted mostly from the egocentric phase earlier, and am now on ethnocentric, with some worldcentric. And this will show up. I will notice the change.

The way it looks for me is that the zone #1 techniques may very well yield zone #2 insights and realizations. Although in doing so, these zone #1 techniques use a zone #2 methodology, so in a way - they become zone #2 techniques.

So it means that it is true, mostly, that zone #1 investigations do not see zone #2 levels. Yet what we see as zone #1 techniques can also be used as zone #2 techniques. They can, in a rough way, discover some of the zone #2 characteristics - some of the broad stages and how there is a shift from one to another over time.

Teachers discovering zone #2 in working with students

The same is most likely true for spiritual teachers. If they didn't notice some of these stages of development in themselves, they will see them in their students.

They are bound to notice the changes among students, and in students over time. In the stream of students passing before them, year after year.

Some may move through these faster, other more slowly, and other again maybe not at all. But move through them they do, and it will show up in their worldview, their interests, how they experience their world, who and what they have compassion for, and how they live their lives.

A rough map with zone #1 techniques

So it seems that a rough map of stages of development is very much possible in the context of meditation, self-inquiry and contemplation.

At the very least, the widening circles of care, concern and compassion will be relatively obvious, going from the small circle of myself, to the wider circle of my group, to the even wider circle of all humanity, all life, future generations, the whole of existence, and reflected in any aspect of my life and experience.

Other lines of development may also be relatively obvious, at least in a general way: for instance the spiritual live of development, and maybe also the emotional and interpersonal, depending on what the specific tradition emphasizes. And different spiritual traditions do of course include different stages of development, at least in one or a few lines.

Detailed explorations with zone #2 methodologies

KWs point may be that zone #2 methodologies, as developed in modern psychology, is needed for a more detailed exploration and mapping of zone #2, and that is of course right.

But it does not mean that zone #1 and its techniques is blind to it, oblivious to the relatively obvious changes and maturing in at least some lines of development.

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World changing: many possible outcomes and what to do |

There is no doubt that we are in for some big changes ahead on global, and so also personal, levels.

As usual, we don't know how it is going to look. And white areas on the map is where we draw in monsters and Shangri-las, one or the other and sometimes both.

Cuba and peak oil

This came up for me again as I watched The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil at the NWEI volunteer retreat this weekend.

The basic information and message is not new to me, and wouldn't be to anyone who know a little about peak oil and Cuba. Still, it is a well made movie and very inspiring to many.

It shows a transition that many of us would like to see in our own communities, peak oil or not. And it shows how a potentially scary situation can be revealed, and made into, a gift, if nudged in the right direction. (Of course, in Cuba they have a - somewhat enlightened - dictatorship, which may make those transitions easier in times of crisis.)

The Great Turning

The world is always changing.

And right now, there are lots of carrots and whips at play which invites a deep culture change into a more life-centered culture and civilization, a Great Turning as Joanna Macy calls it.

Will it happen? Well, we don't know. But it sure is more fun to be a part of nudging us towards it, whether it happens or not.

Carrots and whips

We all know some of the whips...

Climate change, or climate chaos as some folks more accurately call it.

Peak oil, which is happening as we speak. It means the end of cheap oil and big changes to our petroleum dependent civilization. It may well also mean the end of globalization as we see it today, and may be one of the factors that (probably sooner than most think) brings down the US empire. And it is likely to mean a new emphasis on local communities, on more complete and compact communities, more efficient use of energy, and renewable energy in its many forms.

Human-made toxins everywhere: in the air we breathe, the food we eat, in the tissue and blood stream of every living creature.

And some of the carrots...

The joy of living in a more life-centered way. We all know that many aspects of our current lives in industrialized countries are not life-supporting and life-enhancing, and that takes its toll on us, whether we are aware of it or not. Living in a more life-enhancing way is inherently joyful.

The joy of stronger and more vibrant local communities, where tools, time and resources are shared, whether by necessity or otherwise. Where we know our neighbors. Where we know the people who grow our food. Where we know the people who make some or many of the things we use daily.

The health benefits of walking and biking more. Of eating locally grown, fresh, organic produce. Of being more outdoors, maybe even growing some of our own food at our own plot, a community garden, or from a few hours work-exchange at a local CSA farm.

Diversity of outcomes

Most likely, the changes brought about by peak oil and other whips and carrots will be quite different in different regions.

In areas that are already poor, and where most of the population may be at ego- and ethno-centric levels of development, it may easily mean even more devastation.

In places like Iceland the situation is quite different. They are already doing a lot. They are shifting away from petroleum dependency and towards being mostly or completely self-reliant with essentials such as energy and food - and they can do this due to easily accessible thermal energy. Most of the population is at world-centric levels of development (orange or green in the integral model).

Among all the countries and regions of the world, Iceland is maybe the one that has the best chance to look more like the sustainable, life-centered paradise that some envision.

Although not even Iceland is immune to what is happening in the rest of the world socially, and ecologically - rising sea levels will stronlgy impact Iceland too.

The situation in the US may be more shaky. Larger segments are here at ethno-centric levels of development which in a crisis can get ugly. Just look at Iraq. At the same time, many are at world-centric levels of development which may offset some of the havoc. And many of the leading-edge developments in sustainability and local self-reliance is happening right here. The knowledge is available, if it is made use of. Still, as we are heading further into the ecological bottle-neck, the US is not the place where I would choose to be.

What could happen in Europe? It is difficult to say. Larger segments are at world-centric areas of development, at least in western Europe, so that may make for an easier transition. Their mindset is already more aligned with sustainability and an emphasis on local communities. And they have the resources to allow for a softer transition.

At the same time, Europe shares land-mass with areas less fortunate, and this can lead to mass migrations, the prevention of these mass migrations, and quite a lot of ugliness. We are seeing some of this already. And we'll probably see more of it, not only in Europe.

What can I do on a personal level?

What can we do on a personal level?

For me, the answer is in several areas, and it is found in that which is enjoyable and rewarding right now, in itself, and is also likely to be useful in more difficult times.

What can I do to be part of the Great Turning? What is my role there? For me right now, it is mainly nurturing culture change through my involvement with NWEI, starting up local groups at businesses, churches, other organizations, neighborhoods, and open groups in the community.

What types of skills can I learn now that may be of particular use in the future, and is enjoyable and useful even now? Growing food is one. Learning to repair and make things is another. And exploring whole systems design skills, for instance through permaculture, yet another.

How can I strengthen my connections with my local community? I can do this through getting to know people, share resources, barter, and so on. The more ties, the more likely that we'll stay together during more difficult times as well.

These are all at the outer and interpersonal levels, quadrants two, three and four in the aqal model.

What about quadrant one? What can I do there that is rewarding and enjoyable right now, while also useful in more testing times?

By far the most useful and practical tool I have found is The Work. It allows the charge in thoughts and ideas - including those inducing fear, panic and the like - to fall away. And this frees up clarity and energy so I can respond a little more sanely to whatever situation I find myself in, from a place of more compassion and wisdom.

Other forms of self-inquiry, and forms of mediation and yoga, are also very useful here.

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