Chapter 5.1

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So Glad to See You Looking Ahead!

HyperLearning Has been Designed With Your Optimum Potential and Greatest Focus in Mind!
Make Sure You Have Made The Most of the Sections You Have Covered Thus Far in the Course!
More Material Will be Rolling Out to You Soon!

See You in The Crucible Forums!

David Rainoshek, M.A.


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A Map for HyperLearning Better: Integral Thinking

What’s my philosophy? In a word, Integral. And what on earth — or in heaven — do I mean by Integral? The dictionary meaning is fairly simple: “Comprehensive, balanced, inclusive, essential for completeness.” Short definition, tall order.

– Ken Wilber

In 2006, in the throes of reading the great Mythologist Joseph Campbell (The Hero With a Thousand Faces and Pathways to Bliss) to learn more about world cultures and spiritual traditions, I was handed a book written by American philosopher Ken Wilber called The Simple Feeling of Being. His striking face, gaze, bald head, and glasses were on the front cover. I thought, “I recognize this guy.”

My life was about to make a dramatic evolutionary shift.

I did recognize Wilber. Ten years prior I had been perusing the college bookstore, and saw his face on the cover of A Brief History of Everything.

When I opened the book as a 19-year-old, I was intrigued by the content (who wouldn’t want to know the history of everything?), but felt that the subject matter was beyond me. I put the book back on the shelf, and it would be over ten years until I again came in contact with Ken Wilber’s work, and my life and perspectives would be deeply and forever upgraded.

What Wilber has developed is an Integral Perspective – an Integral Map – and the aim is to honor and incorporate and find space in one’s awareness for … everything in the Kosmos.  We will get to what everything in the Kosmos means in just a moment…  but let me say from the outset: Integral is absolutely key for a truly limitless ability to HyperLearn. Why? Three main reasons:

1. Better Organization and Understanding. Information, experiences, worldviews, perspectives, cultures, ideas, and ways of being are coming at us at a dizzying pace in every aspect of our lives: products, conversations, relationships at work, television, radio, podcasts, YouTube, blog posts, book suggestions, advertisements, travel, world cuisines, world religious traditions, the liberation of the sexes (women are more free to work and develop themselves “out in the world,” men are more free to experience their emotions and share them), environmental issues, international politics and business, and on an on it goes.  An Integral Map to help us organize and better understand all of this is very helpful to turn what feels like a heap of (sometimes inane, seemingly meaningless) stuff we are exposed to into an organized map of the human experience with deep meaning and purpose.

2. Discernment. Because the Integral Approach attempts to honor and incorporate as many perspectives as possible, an Integral awareness allows us to better see where something, or someone, is doing well, and where they are partial, and leaving something out – or doing a misrepresentation altogether. In other words, taking an Integral perspective gives us the tools to both honor for wholeness – and criticize for lack of inclusiveness – much, much better. What this means is that in any conversation, or in reading or listening to anything or anyone, it is highly likely with an Integral view that you will be able to size things up much more skillfully than most people you will ever encounter. Whether you use this for mere criticism, to help you clarify something in your own life, or to reach new levels of understanding and co-creative expression with others, will be up to you.

3. To See New Territory for Discovery and Growth. When going to a new city, or wanting to get a better understanding of your own city, who hasn’t consulted a Frommer’s or Lonely Planet Guide to preview the scene, and then help guide you through it when you are there, better ensuring visitation of the best routes, restaurants, museums, cultural districts, etc. And consider the upgrade with Google Maps, which we can even use live, on the spot with hand-held mobile devices. Maps allow a 50,000 – foot bird’s eye view of the territory, can help us find things we want, and aid us in discovering new things we never would have known existed. An Integral Map is key to orienting and opening up a HyperLearning Mind that is encountering a larger field of information and experience – a wider and more dense territory – than the average person has ever been asked to traverse in human history.

In the forward to Ken Wilber’s book, The Eye of Spirit, Jack Crittenden writes, “… he is giving us a pattern that connects all of life, of the Kosmos, of Spirit. His work amounts to a guide to the secrets of life—biological, social, cultural, and spiritual life. As you will see amply displayed… he has drawn us a detailed map, an integral vision for the modern and postmodern world, a vision that unites the best of ancient wisdom with the best of modern knowledge. Through his extraordinary work he gives us encouragement to continue our own work—the life journey to wholeness that none of us can avoid, but that until this integral vision few of us could fully comprehend.”

This is not nerdy, heady, intellectual, mental acrobatics… although it will feel that way at the outset. Many people, when first encountering Ken Wilber’s work, haphazardly categorize Wilber as all head, no heart. Don’t make this mistake! Ken’s Integral Approach, while an incredible intellectual achievement, was created and carried forth by his great Soul and compassionate Heart.[1] As you will discover, to cultivate a truly Integral awareness is a profound act of Love. It is an active practice of discovering how to honor, incorporate, and allow for everything in the living and ever-evolving Kosmos so that our Love and Learning can be born out of awarenesses and understandings well beyond mere feelings and good intentions alone.

An Integral awareness generates deep skillfulness that meets the needs we have in the Integral Age of worldcentrism. You are about to see why I consider the work of Ken Wilber to be one of the most valuable things you could ever encounter… the positive impact on my life and work is hard to measure.

What is Integral?

A vision of breathtaking profundity and significance that maps with brilliant clarity Wordsworth’s “dark inscrutable workmanship that reconciles discordant elements, makes them cling together in one society.” Wilber gives us here a way to understand ourselves within the vast scope of the universe and time and all that we know as a species. He also gives us a way to operationalize that understanding and realize the full beauty and potential of our place in the family of things. May this integral vision unfold and find its way into our hearts, our epistemologies, and our institutions for the sake of life itself and for the joys of wonder and awe.

– Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, HealthCare, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School on Ken Wilber’s book, A Theory of Everything

Ken Wilber in his Forward to Integral Medicine: A Noetic Reader (2003), writes:

An integral approach is based on one basic idea: no human mind can be 100% wrong. Or, we might say, nobody is smart enough to be wrong all the time. And that means, when it comes to deciding which approaches, methodologies, epistemologies, or ways or knowing are “correct,” the answer can only be, “All of them.” That is, all of the numerous practices or paradigms of human inquiry — including physics, chemistry, hermeneutics, collaborative inquiry, meditation, neuroscience, vision quest, phenomenology, structuralism, subtle energy research, systems theory, shamanic voyaging, chaos theory, developmental psychology—all of those modes of inquiry have an important piece of the overall puzzle of a total existence…

And in an Introduction[2] to his Collected Works, Wilber continues:

The real intent of my writing is not to say, you must think in this way. The real intent is: here are some of the many important facets of this extraordinary Kosmos; have you thought about including them in your own worldview? My work is an attempt to make room in the Kosmos for all of the dimensions, levels, domains, waves, memes, modes, individuals, cultures, and so on ad infinitum. I have one major rule: Everybody is right. More specifically, everybody — including me — has some important pieces of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honored, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace. To Freudians I say, “Have you looked at Buddhism?” To Buddhists I say, “Have you studied Freud?” To liberals I say, “Have you thought about how important some conservative ideas are?” To conservatives I say, “Can you perhaps include a more liberal perspective?” And so on, and so on, and so on… At no point I have ever said: Freud is wrong, Buddha is wrong, liberals are wrong, conservatives are wrong. I have only suggested that they are true but partial. My critical writings have never attacked the central beliefs of any discipline, only the claims that the particular discipline has the only truth — and on those grounds I have often been harsh. But every approach, I honestly believe, is essentially true but partial, true but partial, true but partial.

And on my own tombstone, I dearly hope that someday they will write: He was true but partial…

As a HyperLearner, you open yourself up to everything, but as you begin to discover, everything is rather large and deeply involved.  You begin to find that your curious mind and compassionate heart have gotten into a territory that is much, much wider than you thought, and new discoveries require – demand – that you to let go of  some of your previously annexed territory for better, higher, wider, deeper ways of being and knowing. I love this story Ram Dass tells about new vistas (start at 3:00 minutes in for the story):


The Game is much, much bigger than we thought. Yet because you are reading this, it is evident that your evolutionary telos – your drive to grow, develop, transcend, and integrate more is a fundamental desire in you… it is the fulfillment of a deep promise you have made to yourself to embrace and love more, and more… How large can your awareness become? How much can you hold and create with?

Let’s talk about development – yours, others, and the Kosmos writ large.

In A Theory of Everything, Ken Wilber describes his process of understanding and integrating the many ways that development unfolds in the Kosmos – ways that at first seemed to be in conflict. What follows is Ken’s story of finally arriving at a truly Integral Map – an Integral embrace – after many, many years of dedicated practice, research, and contemplation. Let this be not only an introduction to Wilber, but an inspiration to light a fire in your mind for learning. Ken is a penultimate HyperLearner, as you will now see. Here we go, from A Theory of Everything:

I sought a world philosophy—or an integral philosophy—that would believably weave together the many pluralistic contexts of science, morals, aesthetics, Eastern as well as Western philosophy, and the world’s great wisdom traditions. Not on the level of details—that is finitely impossible; but on the level of orienting generalizations: a way to suggest that the world really is one, undivided, whole, and related to itself in every way: a holistic philosophy for a holistic Kosmos, a plausible Theory of Everything.

Three years later, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (SES) was the result. During that period I lived the hermit life; I saw exactly four people in three years (Roger Walsh, who is an M.D. stopped by once a year to make sure I was alive); it was very much a typical three-year silent retreat (this period is described in One Taste, June 12 entry). I was locked into this thing, and it would not let go.

The hard part had to do with hierarchies. Granted, dominator hierarchies are deplorable, and oppressive social rankings are pernicious. Postmodernism has fortunately made us all more sensitive to those injustices. But even the antihierarchy critics have their own strong hierarchies (or value rankings). The postmodernists value pluralism over absolutism—and that is their value hierarchy. Even the eco-philosophers, who abhor hierarchies that place humans on the top of the evolutionary scale, have their own very strong hierarchy, which is: subatomic elements are parts of atoms, which are parts of molecules, which are parts of cells, which are part of organisms, which are part of ecosystems, which are parts of the biosphere. They thus value the biosphere above particular organisms, such as man, and they deplore man’s using the biosphere for his own selfish and ruinous purposes. All of that comes from their particular value hierarchy.

Feminists have several hierarchies (e.g. partnership societies are better than power societies; linking is better than ranking; liberation is better than oppression); systems theorists have hundreds of hierarchies (most natural systems are arranged hierarchically); biologists and linguists and developmental psychologists all have hierarchies… Everybody seemed to have some sort of hierarchy, even those who claimed they didn’t. The problem is, none of them matched with the others. None of their hierarchies seemed to agree with each other. And that was the basic problem that kept me locked in my room for three years.

At one point, I had over two hundred hierarchies written out on legal pads lying all over the floor, trying to figure out how to fit them together. There were “natural science” hierarchies, which were the easy ones, since everybody agreed with them: atoms to molecules to cells to organisms, for example. They were easy to understand because they were so graphic: organisms actually contain cells, which actually contain molecules, which actually contain atoms. You can even see this directly with a microscope. That hierarchy is one of actual embrace: cells literally embrace or enfold molecules.

The other fairly easy series of hierarchies were those discovered by the developmental psychologists.  They all told variations on the hierarchy that goes from preconventional to conventional to postconventional, or in a bit more detail, from sensation to perception to impulse to image to symbol to concept to rule to formal . . . . The names varied, and the schemes were slightly different, but the hierarchical story was the same—each succeeding stage incorporated its predecessors and then added some new capacity. This seemed very similar to the natural science hierarchies, except they still did not match up in any obvious way. Moreover, you can actually see organisms and cells in the empirical world, but you can’t see interior states of consciousness in the same way. It is not at all obvious how these hierarchies would—or even could—be related.

And those were the easy ones. There were linguistic hierarchies, contextual hierarchies, spiritual hierarchies. There were stages of development in phonetics, stellar systems, cultural worldviews, autopoetic systems, technological modes, economic structures, phylogenetic unfoldings, superconscious realizations. . . . And they simply refused to agree with each other.

G. Spencer Brown, in his remarkable book, The Laws of Form, said that new knowledge comes when you simply bear in mind what you need to know. Keep holding the problem in mind, and it will yield. The history of human beings is certainly testament to that fact. An individual runs into a problem, and simply obsesses about that problem until he or she solves it. And the funny thing is: the problem is always solved. Sooner or later, it yields. It might take a week,  a month, a year, a decade, a century, or a millennium, but the Kosmos appears to be such that solutions are always forthcoming. For a million years, humans looked at the moon and wanted to walk on it. . . .

I believe any competent person is capable of bearing problems in mind until they yield their secrets: what not everybody possesses is the requisite will, passion, or inane obsession that will let them hold the problem long enough or fiercely enough. I, at any rate, was insane enough for this particular problem, and toward the end of that three-year period, the whole thing started to become clear to me. It soon became obvious that the various hierarchies fall into four major classes (what I would call the four quadrants [see below]); that some of the hierarchies are referring to individuals, some to collectives, some are about exterior realities, some are about interior ones, but they all fit together seamlessly.

The ingredients of these hierarchies are holons. A holon is a whole that is part of other wholes. For example, a whole atom is part of a whole molecule; a whole molecule is part of a whole cell; a whole cell is part of a whole organism. Or again, a whole letter is part of a whole word, which is part of a whole sentence, which is part of a whole paragraph, and so on. Reality is composed of neither wholes nor parts, but of whole/parts, or holons. Reality in all domains is basically composed of holons.

This is also why, as Arthur Koestler pointed out, a growth hierarchy is actually a holarchy, since it is composed of holons (such as atoms to molecules to cells to organisms—what we also call nested hierarchy or actualization hierarchy, which is why holarchies are the backbone of holism: they convert heaps to wholes, which are parts of other wholes, limitlessly). The Kosmos is a series of nests within nests within nests indefinitely, expressing greater and greater holistic embrace—holarchies of holons everywhere—which is why everybody had their own value holarchy, and why, in the end, all of these holarchies intermesh and fit perfectly with all the others.

The universe is composed of holons, all the way up, all the way down. And with that, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality began to write itself. The book is divided into two parts. Part One describes this holonic Kosmos—nests within nests within nests indefinitely—and the worldview of universal integralism that I believe can most authentically express it. Part Two attempts to explain why this holistic pattern of mutually interrelated patterns and processes—holarchies of holons—why do so few disciplines acknowledge this fact? If the Kosmos is not holistic, not integral, not holonic—if it is a fragmented and jumbled affair, with no common contexts or linkings or joinings or communions—then fine, the world is a jumbled mess the various specialities take it to be. But if the world is holistic and holonic, then why do not more people see this? And why do many academic specialities actively deny it? If the world is whole, why do so many people see it as broken? And why, in a sense, is the world broken, fragmented, alienated, divided?

The second part of the book therefore looks at what prevents us from seeing the holistic Kosmos. It looks at what I call flatland. In a sense, flatland is simply the failure to grasp the entire spiral of development or the full spectrum of consciousness; the antidote to flatland is an integral vision, which is what Sex, Ecology, Spirituality attempts to provide.

Once the book was conceived, the actual writing went fairly quickly. It was published in 1995. Reviews ranged from very postive (“Along with Aurobindo’s Life Divine, Heidegger’s Being and Time, and Whitehead’s Process and Reality, Wilber’s Sex, Ecology, Spirituality is one of the four great books of this century”) to puzzled, confused, or angry  (“This is  one of the most irritating books of the year, pompous and over-bloated”). But the most common overall reaction to SES was one of what I suppose we might call joy. I was flooded with mail from readers who told me of the liberating influence that SES had on their view of the world, on their view of reality, on their consciousness itself. SES is, after all, a story of the feats of your very own Self, and many readers rejoiced at that remembrance. Women forgave me any patriarchal obnoxiousness, men told me of weeping through the last chapter. Apart from Grace and Grit, I have never received such heartfelt and deeply moving letters as I received from SES, letters that made those difficult three years seem more worth it.

One critic wrote of SES that “it honors and incorporates more truth than any approach in history.” I obviously would like to believe that is the case, but I know that every tomorrow brings new truths, opens new vistas, and creates the demand for even more encompassing views. SES is simply the latest in a long line of holistic visions, and will itself pass into a greater tomorrow where it is merely a footnote to more glorious views.

In the meantime, I personally believe that SES (and the subsequent books fleshing it out) can serve as a helpful integral view. A Brief History of Everything is a popular version of SES, and interested readers might start there. Of course, it is not necessary that you agree with all of this vision or even most of it—and, in fact, you will probably be able to improve on it, which would be great. This is simply one version of an integral overview—an attempt at a Theory of Everything—useful only to the degree that it helps you to envision your own integral possibilities. Shall we take a look?

The Integral Operating System


What if we took everything that all the various cultures have to tell us about human potential—about spiritual growth, psychological growth, social growth—and put it all on the table? What if we attempted to find the critically essential keys to human growth, based on the sum total of human knowledge now open to us? What if we attempted, based on extensive cross-cultural study, to use all of the world’s great traditions to create a composite map, a comprehensive map, an all-inclusive or integral map that included the best elements from all of them? In the following [sections], Ken Wilber shares an overview of this map: The Integral Operating System (IOS).[3]


During the last 30 years, we have witnessed a historical first: all of the world’s cultures are now available to us. In the past, if you were born, say, a Chinese, you likely spent your entire life in one culture, often in one province, sometimes in one house, living and loving and dying on one small plot of land. But today, not only are people geographically mobile, we can study, and have studied, virtually every known culture on the planet. In the global village, all cultures are exposed to each other.

Knowledge itself is now global. This means that, also for the first time, the sum total of human knowledge is available to us—the knowledge, experience, wisdom and reflection of all major human civilizations—premodern, modern, and postmodern—are open to study by anyone.

What if we took literally everything that all the various cultures have to tell us about human potential—about spiritual growth, psychological growth, social growth—and put it all on the table? What if we attempted to find the critically essential keys to human growth, based on the sum total of human knowledge now open to us? What if we attempted, based on extensive cross-cultural study, to use all of the world’s great traditions to create a composite map, a comprehensive map, an all-inclusive or integral map that included the best elements from all of them?

Sound complicated, complex, daunting? In a sense, it is. But in another sense, the results turn out to be surprisingly simple and elegant. Over the last several decades, there has indeed been an extensive search for a comprehensive map of human potentials. This map uses all the known systems and models of human growth—from the ancient shamans and sages to today’s breakthroughs in cognitive science—and distills their major components into 5 simple factors, factors that are the essential elements or keys to unlocking and facilitating human evolution.

Welcome to the Integral Model.

An Integral or Comprehensive Map

What are these 5 elements? We call them quadrantslevelslinesstates, and types. As you will see, all of these elements are, right now, available in your own awareness. These 5 elements are not merely theoretical concepts; they are aspects of your own experience, contours of your own consciousness, as you can easily verify for yourself as we proceed.

What is the point of using this Integral Map or Model? First, whether you are working in business, medicine, psychotherapy, law, ecology, or simply everyday living and learning, the Integral Map helps make sure that you are “touching all the bases.” If you are trying to fly over the Rocky Mountains, the more accurate a map you have, the less likely you will crash. An Integral Approach insures that you are utilizing the full range of resources for any situation, with the greater likelihood of success.

Second, if you learn to spot these 5 elements in your own awareness—and because they are there in any event—then you can more easily appreciate them, exercise them, use them… and thereby vastly accelerate your own growth and development to higher, wider, deeper ways of being. A simple familiarity with the 5 elements in the Integral Model will help you orient yourself more easily and fully in this exciting journey of discovery and awakening.

In short, the Integral Approach helps you see both yourself and the world around you in more comprehensive and effective ways. But one thing is important to realize from the start. The Integral Map is just a map. It is not the territory. We certainly don’t want to confuse the map with the territory, but neither do we want to be working with an inaccurate or faulty map. The Integral Map is just a map, but it is the most complete and accurate map we have at this time.

What Is an Integral Operating System?

In an information network, an operating system is the infrastructure that allows various software programs to operate. We use Integral Operating System or IOS as another phrase for the Integral Map. The point is simply that, if you are running any “software” in your life—such as your business, work, play, or relationships—you want the best operating system you can find, and IOS fits that bill. In touching all the bases, it allows the most effective programs to be used. This is just another way of talking about the comprehensive and inclusive nature of the Integral Model.

We will also be exploring what is perhaps the most important use of the Integral Map or Operating System. Because an IOS can be used to help index any activity—from art to dance to business to psychology to politics to ecology—it allows each of those domains to talk to the others. Using IOS, business has the terminology with which to communicate fully with ecology, which can communicate with art, which can communicate with law, which can communicate with poetry and education and medicine and spirituality. In the history of humankind, this has never really happened before.

At Integral Life, by using an Integral Map or Integral Operating System we are able to facilitate and dramatically accelerate cross-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary knowledge, thus creating the worlds’ first truly integral culture and learning community.

But it all starts with these simple 5 elements in the contours of your own consciousness.

States and Stages of Consciousness

We said that all of the aspects of the 5 elements of the Integral Model are available, right now, in your own awareness.  What follows is therefore, in a sense, a guided tour of your own experience.  So why don’t you come along with us and see if you can spot some of these features arising in your own awareness right now.

Some of these features refer to subjective realities in you, some refer to objective realities out there in the world, and others refer to collective or communal realities shared with others.  Let’s start with states of consciousness, which refer to subjective realities.

Everybody is familiar with major states of consciousness, such as waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.  Right now, you are in a waking state of consciousness (or, if you are tired, perhaps a daydream state of consciousness).  There are all sorts of different states of consciousness, including meditative states (induced by yoga, contemplation, meditation, and so on); altered states (such as drug-induced); and a variety of peak experiences, many of which can be triggered by intense experiences like making love, walking in nature, or listening to exquisite music.

The great wisdom traditions (such as Christian mysticism, Vedanta Hinduism, Vajrayana Buddhism, and Jewish Kabbalah) maintain that the 3 natural states of consciousness—waking, dreaming, and deep formless sleep—actually contain a treasure trove of spiritual wisdom and spiritual awakening…. if we know how to use them correctly.  In a special sense, which we will explore as we go along, the 3 great natural states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep contain an entire spectrum of spiritual enlightenment.

But on a much simpler, more mundane level, everybody experiences various sorts of states of consciousness, and these states often provide profound motivation, meaning, and drives, in both yourself and others.  In any particular situation, states of consciousness may not be a very important factor, or they may be the determining factor, but no integral approach can afford to ignore them.  Whenever you are using IOS, you will automatically be prompted to check and see if you are touching bases with these important subjective realities.

Stages or Levels of Development

There’s an interesting thing about states of consciousness: they come and they go.  Even great peak experiences or altered states, no matter how profound, will come, stay a bit, then pass.  No matter how wonderful their capacities, they are temporary.

Where states of consciousness are temporary, stages of consciousness are permanent.  Stages represent the actual milestones of growth and development.  Once you are at a stage, it is an enduring acquisition.  For example, once a child develops through the linguistic stages of development, the child has permanent access to language.  Language isn’t present one minute and gone the next.  The same thing happens with other types of growth.  Once you stably reach a stage of growth and development, you can access the qualities of that stage—such as greater consciousness, more embracing love, higher ethical callings, greater intelligence and awareness—virtually any time you want.  Passing stateshave been converted to permanent traits.

How many stages of development are there?  Well, remember that in any map, the way you divide and represent the actual territory is somewhat arbitrary.  For example, how many degrees are there between freezing and boiling water?  If you use a Centigrade scale or “map,” there are 100 degrees between freezing and boiling.  But if you use a Fahrenheit scale, freezing is at 32 and boiling is at 212, so there are 180 degrees between them.  Which is right?  Both of them.  It just depends upon how you want to slice that pie.

The same is true of stages.  There are all sorts of ways to slice and dice development, and therefore there are all sorts of stage conceptions.  All of them can be useful.  In the chakra system, for example, there are 7 major stages or levels of consciousness.  Jean Gebser, the famous anthropologist, uses 5: archaic, magic, mythic, rational, and integral.  Certain Western psychological models have 8, 12, or more levels of development.  Which is right?  All of them; it just depends on what you want to keep track of in growth and development.

Stages of development” are also referred to as “levels of development,” the idea being that each stage represents a level of organization or a level of complexity.  For example, in the sequence from atoms to molecules to cells to organisms, each of those stages of evolution involves a greater level of complexity.  The word “level” is not meant in a rigid or exclusionary fashion, but simply to indicate that there are important emergent qualities that tend to come into being in a discrete or quantum-like fashion, and these developmental levels are important aspects of many natural phenomena.

Generally, in the Integral Model, we work with around 8 to 10 stages or levels of consciousness development.  We have found, after years of field work, that more stages than that are too cumbersome, and less than that, too vague.  One stage conception we often use is that of Spiral Dynamics Integral, founded by Don Beck based on the research of Clare Graves.  We also use stages of self development pioneered by Jane Loevinger and Susann Cook-Greuter; and orders of consciousness, researched by Robert Kegan.  But there are many other useful stage conceptions available with the Integral Approach, and you can adopt any of them that are appropriate to your situation.

A Simple Example

To show what is involved with levels or stages, let’s use a very simple model possessing only 3 of them.  If we look at moral development, for example, we find that an infant at birth has not yet been socialized into the culture’s ethics and conventions; this is called the preconventional stage.  It is also called egocentric, in that the infant’s awareness is largely self-absorbed.  But as the young child begins to learn its culture’s rules and norms, it grows into the conventional stage of morals.  This stage is also called ethnocentric, in that it centers on the child’s particular group, tribe, clan, or nation, and it therefore tends to exclude care for those not of one’s group.  But at the next major stage of moral development, the postconventional stage, the individual’s identity expands once again, this time to include a care and concern for all peoples, regardless of race, color, sex, or creed, which is why this stage is also called worldcentric.

Thus, moral development tends to move from “me” (egocentric) to “us” (ethnocentric) to “all of us” (worldcentric)—a good example of the unfolding stages of consciousness.

Another way to picture these 3 stages is as bodymind, and spirit.  Those words all have many valid meanings, but when used specifically to refer to stages, they mean:

Stage 1, which is dominated by my gross physical reality, is the “body” stage (using body in its typical meaning of gross body).  Since you are identified merely with the separate bodily organism and its survival drives, this is also the “me” stage.

Stage 2 is the “mind” stage, where identity expands from the isolated gross body and starts to share relationships with many others, based perhaps on shared values, mutual interests, common ideals, or shared dreams.  Because I can use the mind to take the role of others—to put myself in their shoes and feel what it is like to be them—my identity expands from “me” to “us” (the move from egocentric to ethnocentric).

With stage 3, my identity expands once again, this time from an identity with “us” to an identity with “all of us” (the move from ethnocentric to worldcentric).  Here I begin to understand that, in addition to the wonderful diversity of humans and cultures, there are also similarities and shared commonalities.  Discovering the commonwealth of all beings is the move from ethnocentric to worldcentric, and is “spiritual” in the sense of things common to all sentient beings.

That is one way to view the unfolding from body to mind to spirit, where each of them is considered as a stage, wave, or level of unfolding care and consciousness, moving from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric.

We will be returning to stages of evolution and development, each time exploring them from a new angle.  For now, all that is required is an understanding that by “stages” we mean progressive and permanent milestones along the evolutionary path of your own unfolding.  Whether we talk stages of consciousness, stages of energy, stages of culture, stages of spiritual realization, stages of moral development, and so on, we are talking of these important and fundamental rungs in the unfolding of your higher, deeper, wider potentials.

Whenever you use IOS, you will automatically be prompted to check and see if you have included the important stage aspects of any situation, which will dramatically increase your likelihood of success, whether that success be measured in terms of personal transformation, social change, excellence in business, care for others, or simple satisfaction in life.

See you in the next section where we will continue exploring the Integral Operating System with Lines of Development!


Stay Sharp,

David Rainoshek, M.A.

[1] Introduction, Collected Works of Ken Wilber, vol. VIII (2000)

[2] For an insightful and full look at the heart of Ken Wilber as a person, consider reading his most widely read book, Grace and Grit, about the life and loss of Ken’s soulmate, Treya, to aggressive breast cancer just five years after they married. The honesty and dedication to one another and their very human experience of life and death is breathtaking and worth the trip.

[3] “The Integral Operating System” is a complementary overview of Integral on, found here: This intro has been honed over several decades, so I am not going to re-invent the wheel here. Please follow up on the link for even more incredible related content to this introduction.

Integral Thinking – A map For HyperLearning

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Ram Dass Excerpt

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Integral Thinking – Part 2

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Integral Operating System

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States and Stages of Consciousness

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Integral Thinking – A map For HyperLearning


Ram Dass Excerpt


Integral Thinking – Part 2


Integral Operating System


States and Stages of Consciousness