Chapter 5.3

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Integral Applications

Let’s conclude this Introduction to IOS Basic by giving a few quick examples of its application or “apps.”


Nowhere is the Integral Model more immediately applicable than in medicine, and it is being increasingly adopted by health care facilities around the world. A quick trip through the quadrants will show why an integral model can be helpful.

Orthodox or conventional medicine is a classic Upper-Right quadrant approach. It deals almost entirely with the physical organism using physical interventions: surgery, drugs, medication, and behavioral modification. Orthodox medicine believes essentially in the physical causes of physical illness, and therefore prescribes mostly physical interventions. But the Integral Model claims that every physical event (UR) has at least four dimensions (the quadrants), and thus even physical illness must be looked at from all four quadrants (not to mention levels, which we will address later). The integral model does not claim the Upper-Right quadrant is not important, only that it is, as it were, only one-fourth of the story.

The recent explosion of interest in alternative care—not to mention such disciplines as psychoneuroimmunology—has made it quite clear that the person’s interior states (their emotions, psychological attitude, imagery, and intentions) play a crucial role in both the cause and the cure of even physical illness. In other words, the Upper-Left quadrant is a key ingredient in any comprehensive medical care. Visualization, affirmation, and conscious use of imagery have been shown to play a significant role in the management of most illnesses, and outcomes have been shown to depend on emotional states and mental outlook.

But as important as those subjective factors are, individual consciousness does not exist in a vacuum; it exists inextricably embedded in shared cultural values, beliefs, and worldviews. How a culture (LL) views a particular illness—with care and compassion or derision and scorn—can have a profound impact on how an individual copes with that illness (UL), which can directly affect the course of the physical illness itself (UR). The Lower-Left quadrant includes all of the enormous number of intersubjective factors that are crucial in any human interaction—such as the shared communication between doctor and patient; the attitudes of family and friends and how they are conveyed to the patient; the cultural acceptance (or derogation) of the particular illness (e.g., AIDS); and the very values of the culture that the illness itself threatens. All of those factors are to some degree causative in any physical illness and cure (simply because every occasion has four quadrants).

Of course, in practice, this quadrant needs to be limited to those factors that can be effectively engaged—perhaps doctor and patient communication skills, family and friends support groups, and a general understanding of cultural judgments and their effects on illness. Studies consistently show, for example, that cancer patients in support groups live longer than those without similar cultural support. Some of the more relevant factors from the Lower-Left quadrant are thus crucial in any comprehensive medical care.

The Lower-Right quadrant concerns all those material, economic, and social factors that are almost never counted as part of the disease entity, but in fact—like every other quadrant—are causative in both disease and cure. A social system that cannot deliver food will kill you (as famine-racked countries demonstrate daily, alas). In the real world, where every entity has all four quadrants, a virus in the UR quadrant might be the focal issue, but without a social system (LR) that can deliver treatment, you will die. That is not a separate issue; it is central to the issue, because all occasions have four quadrants. The Lower-Right quadrant includes factors such as economics, insurance, social delivery systems, and even things as simple as how a hospital room is physically laid out (does it allow ease of movement, access to visitors, etc.)—not to mention items like environmental toxins.

The forgoing items refer to the “all-quadrant” aspect of the cause and management of illness. The “all-level” part refers to the fact that individuals have—at least—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels in each of those quadrants (see fig. 6). Some illnesses have largely physical causes and physical cures (get hit by a bus, break your leg). But most illnesses have causes and cures that include emotional, mental, and spiritual components. Literally hundreds of researchers from around the world have added immeasurably to our understanding of the “multi-level” nature of disease and cure (including invaluable additions from the great wisdom traditions, shamanic to Tibetan). The point is simply that by adding these levels to the quadrants, a much more comprehensive—and effective—medical model begins to emerge.

In short, a truly effective and comprehensive medical plan would be all-quadrant, all-level: the idea is simply that each quadrant or dimension (fig. 3)—I, we, and it—has physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels or waves (fig. 6), and a truly integral treatment would take all of these realities into account. Not only is this type of integral treatment more effective, it is for that reason more cost-efficient—which is why even organizational medicine is looking at it more closely.


Applications of the Integral Model have recently exploded in business, perhaps, again, because the applications are so immediate and obvious. The quadrants give the four “environments” or dimensions in which a product must survive, and the levels give the types of values that will be both producing and buying the product. Research into the values hierarchy—such as Maslow’s and Graves’s (e.g., Spiral Dynamics), which has already had an enormous influence on business and “VALS”—can be combined with the quadrants (which show how these levels of values appear in the four different environments)—to give a truly comprehensive map of the marketplace (which covers both traditional markets and cybermarkets).

Moreover, leadership training programs, based on an integral model, have also begun to flourish. There are today four major theories of business management (Theory X, which stresses individual behavior; Theory Y, which focuses on psychological understanding; cultural management, which stresses organizational culture; and systems management, which emphasizes the social system and its governance). These four management theories are in fact the four quadrants, and that an integral model would necessarily include all four approaches. Add levels and lines, and an incredibly rich and sophisticated model of leadership emerges, which is easily the most comprehensive available today.


The major implication of an all-quadrant, all-level approach to spirituality is that physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels of being should be simultaneously exercised in self, culture, and nature (i.e., in the I, we, and it domains). There are many variations on this theme, ranging from Integral Transformative Practice to socially engaged spirituality to relationships as spiritual path. The implications of an integral spirituality are profound and widespread, and just beginning to have an impact.


Integral or AQAL ecology has already been pioneered by several associates at Integral Institute, and promises to revolutionize both how we think about environmental issues and how we pragmatically address and remedy them.

The basic idea is simple: anything less than an integral or comprehensive approach to environmental issues is doomed to failure. Both the interior (or Left-Hand) and the exterior (or Right-Hand) quadrants need to be taken into account. Exterior environmental sustainability is clearly needed; but without a growth and development in the interior domains to worldcentric levels of values and consciousness, then the environment remains gravely at risk. Those focusing only on exterior solutions are contributing to the problem. Self, culture, and nature must be liberated together or not at all. How to do so is the focus of Integral Ecology.

More Integral Applications:


Those are a few of the “applications” or apps of the Integral Model. We can now conclude with a brief summary of the main points of the model itself.

AQAL is short for “all quadrants, all levels”—which itself is short for “all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types,” which are simply 5 of the most basic elements that need to be included in any truly integral or comprehensive approach.

When AQAL is used as a guiding framework to organize or understand any activity, we call it an Integral Operating System, or simply IOS Basic. More advanced forms of IOS are available, but IOS Basic has all of the essential elements to get anybody started toward a more comprehensive, inclusive, and effective approach.

Of course, IOS is just a map, nothing more. It is not the territory. But, as far as we can tell, it is the most comprehensive map that we possess at this time. Moreover—and this is important—the Integral Map itself insists that we go to the real territory and not get caught in mere words, ideas, or concepts. Remember that the quadrants are just a version of first-, second-, and third-person realities? Well, the Integral Map and IOS are just third-person words, they are abstractions, a series of “it” signs and symbols. But those third-person words insist that we also include first-person direct feelings, experiences, and consciousness as well as second-person dialogue, contact, and interpersonal care. The Integral Map itself says: this map is just a third-person map, so don’t forget the other important realities, all of which should be included in any comprehensive approach.

Here’s one other important conclusion. IOS is a neutral framework; it does not tell you what to think, or force any particular ideologies on you, or coerce your awareness in any fashion. For example, to say that human beings have waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states is not to say what you should think while awake or what you should see while dreaming. It simply says, if you want to be comprehensive, be sure and include waking and dreaming and sleeping states.

Likewise, to say that all occasions have four quadrants—or simply “I,” “we,” and “it” dimensions—is not to say what the “I” should do, or the “we” should do, or the “it” should do. It simply says, if you are trying to include all the important possibilities, be sure to include first- and second- and third-person perspectives, because they are present in all major languages the world over.

Precisely because IOS is a neutral framework, it can be used to bring more clarity, care, and comprehensiveness to virtually any situation, making success much more likely, whether that success be measured in terms of personal transformation, social change, excellence in business, care for others, or simple happiness in life.

But perhaps most important of all, because IOS can be used by any discipline—from medicine to art to business to spirituality to politics to ecology—then we can, for the first time in history, begin an extensive and fruitful dialogue between all of these disciplines. A person using IOS in business can talk easily and effectively with a person using IOSin poetry, dance, or the arts, simply because they now have a common language—or a common operating system—with which to communicate. When you are using IOS, not only can you run hundreds of different programs on it, all of those programs can now communicate with each other and learn from each other, thus advancing an evolutionary unfolding to even greater dimensions of being and knowing and acting.

This is why Integral Life represents the world’s first integral learning community. Because all of the various human activities, previously separated by incommensurate languages and terminologies, can in fact begin to effectively communicate with each other by running an Integral Operating System, each of those disciplines can begin to converse with, and learn from, the others. This has never effectively happened anywhere in history, which is why, indeed, the Integral adventure is about to begin.

However we look at it, it all comes down to a few simple points. In your own growth and development, you have the capacity to take self, culture, and nature to increasingly higher, wider, and deeper modes of being, expanding from an isolated identity of “me” to an fuller identity of “us” to an even deeper identity with “all of us”—with all sentient beings everywhere—as your own capacity for Truth and Goodness and Beauty deepens and expands. Ever-greater consciousness with an ever-wider embrace, which is realized in self, embodied in nature, and expressed in culture.

Thus, to cultivate body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature. This is the extraordinary aim and goal of Integral Life, and we would love to have you join us in this exciting adventure.

Resources for Cultivating an Integral Perspective for HyperLearning

Ken Wilber is one of the most important pioneers in the field of consciousness in this century. I regard him as my mentor. He is a source of inspiration and insight to all of us. Read everything he writes—it will change your life.”

– Deepak Chopra, M.D.


A Theory of Everything by Ken Wilber

David Rainoshek: A MUST-READ

Here is a concise, comprehensive overview of Ken Wilber’s revolutionary thought and its application in today’s world. In A Theory of Everything, Wilber uses clear, nontechnical language to present complex, cutting-edge theories that integrate the realms of body, mind, soul, and spirit. He then demonstrates how these theories and models can be applied to real-world problems in areas such as politics, medicine, business, education, and the environment. Wilber also discusses daily practices that readers take up in order to apply this integrative vision to their own everyday lives.


A Brief History of Everything by Ken Wilber

In a breathtaking trip from the Big Bang to the Postmodern world we inhabit, Ken Wilber examines the universe and our place in it, and comes up with an accessible and entertaining account of how it all fits together. Along the way he sheds light not only on the great cosmic questions but on various contentious issues of our day, such as changing gender roles, environmentalism, diversity and multiculturalism, even the meaning of the Internet. A Brief History of Everything is the perfect introduction to the great Integral thinker at his wise and witty best.




Kosmic Consciousness by Ken Wilber (10 CD Set)

Before the birth of the universe, there existed your “Original Face,” the limitless Self that has been present throughout the unfolding of inert matter into life-and that continues to dwell within us at every level of consciousness. Where is this grand evolution taking us-and how can you participate fully in it? On Kosmic Consciousness, Ken Wilber invites you to find out. In 10 fascinating sessions, he pursues the questions most relevant to today’s spiritual seeker. Join one of the most significant thinkers of our time as he shares a feast of ideas to inspire you in your personal evolution.


Integral Life

This site is the home of most all of Ken Wilber’s interviews, discussions, blog posts, and upcoming events. But that is only the beginning. Integral Life is an online crucible for the activities of Integral Institute in Colorado, which includes posting audio, video, blog content, and in-depth community discussion about an Integral perspective being applied to every field of human endeavor on the planet. I have been a member here since 2008 and find the new articles, interviews, and discussions of consistent high quality and value.

You will enjoy consulting this page for a superb video introduction: What is the Integral Movement?


In the Integral Life “About” Page, the Integral Community is described thus:

Integral Life is a social media hub documenting the rise of a unique 21st century renaissance occurring amongst visionary leaders, scientists, thinkers and artists around the world. It was founded in 2007 by Ken Wilber and Robb Smith.

People who live integrally are animated by pursuit of a deep purpose, knowledge and sophistication in their personal and professional lives. They demonstrate a capacity for self-awareness, perspective-taking, a diversity of interests, and a commitment to lifelong development. Integral awareness allows people to expand and deepen the experience of every moment, to make sense of the world, to include everything they are while leaving nothing out, and to wake up to the unifying truths that lie at the core of all human experience. Integral Life commits to helping its members live totally free in their immense diversity while embracing the full richness of the human experience in themselves and others. In short, Integral Life community members are leaders committed to extraordinary living.

See the Integral Life About Page for more on the following cutting-edge elements of the site, including:

Integral Theory: A Free Introduction on

For a more in-depth look at Integral, the folks at Integral Life have set up an incredible free page called “The Integral Operating System” to guide you through the fundamentals of Integral Theory. Excerpts from that page were used in this chapter, but a visit to that page will link you into even more interviews and deep material around an introduction to Integral. Here is the link:

Finally, do consider these pages as well:

An Overview of Integral Theory by Sean Esbjorn-Hargens

This is not a beginner explanation of Integral Theory, but that being said, it is thorough and from one of the best students and teachers of Integral, Sean Hargens who teaches Integral Studies at the graduate level at JFK University.

AQAL: An Integral Map

This is a full-size graphic of the major elements of an Integral embrace or approach. Definitely worth downloading and placing in your files as you develop a working understanding of Integral. It looks like this:

(Click the image for a full-size download.)

Final Words

Okay, I know that was a tremendous amount to consider. This chapter was very fully packed, so if you are still reading at this point, CONGRATULATIONS. If your head is spinning, that should come as no surprise. Take a break from reading HyperLearning for a few minutes, hours, or come back tomorrow.

I promise you – allow your curiosity to explore Ken’s work, and your ability to HyperLearn and skillfully use what you are learning will expand far, far beyond your current estate.

To get into Ken Wilber the easiest, get a copy of his book A Theory of Everything and start there. It is 150 pages, and a superb intro to Integral. Then come back and reconsider this chapter and the links herein. Opening up to the entire Kosmos is a big deal. Give it some time. And since you have made it this far, here is a bonus video for you that is my very favorite video intro to Ken Wilber’s style:

“Hurts More, Bothers You Less” with Ken Wilber


See you in the next chapter on FLOW: The HyperLearning State of Optimal Experience!


Stay Sharp,

David Rainoshek, M.A.

Integral Applications

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Summary and Conclusion

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Integral Resources for HyperLearning

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Final Words On Integral

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Hurts More, Bothers You Less with Ken Wilber

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Integral Applications

Summary and Conclusion

Integral Resources for HyperLearning

Final Words On Integral

Hurts More, Bothers You Less with Ken Wilber