The Evolution of the Integral We-Space: A Conversation with Ken Wilber

In preparation for this call, Ken read Terry’s paper for the Integral Theory Conference, Enacting an Integral Revolution: How Can We Have Truly Radical Conversations in a Time of Global Crisis. The paper is a passionate and intellectually adventurous exploration of transformational communication and includes a short history of we-space practices (the first ever written, as far as we know) in the integral community.

Fundamentally, this paper represents Terry’s realizations around a key question that he’s been contemplating over the last several months—if our scientists are right, and we’re really in a time of global crisis, how can we have the truly radical conversations that catalyze the cultural renaissance it seems to demand? Terry feels that too many of our conversations today are “about” this or that vital topic, but leave us, the conversation partners, relatively unchanged.

When it came time for Terry to write the paper he had agreed to present at ITC, he dug in and explored that question vigorously—from many perspectives—focusing on the intention to catalyze a transformative existential confrontation, not just an intellectual discussion.

The call begins with Ken offering a rich, insightful analysis of the nature of higher intersubjectivity and we-space practices. (You’ll find that he’s put forth many ideas that we’ve never heard him say before).

Once Ken presenced that theoretical context, he and Terry went back and forth in exploring higher intersubjectivity, urgency, and the nature of “the creativity of us”. What unfolded was an extremely rich conversation that we think you’ll value.

Here are a few of the ideas you’ll find when you listen:

  • A “We” is how Spirit experiences itself. As each “I” experiences the other, it sees True Self looking back.
  • We-space exercises can help individuals move beyond the invisible limitations of their personal subjectivity.
  • We-space practice can serve individual meditative awakening beyond turiya into turyatita.
  • The we-space has its own network of nexus-agency, and when we feel into all those nexuses, the shared field functions as a mirror that reflects True Self to us all.
  • Every we-space practice is shaped by its unique injunctions and intentions:
    • Injunctions: e.g., “Pay attention to the we-space”, “Stay radically present”, “Surrender into witnessing”, “Suspend judgment”, “Be honest and transparent”, “Build on what others say”, etc.
    • Intentions: e.g., transpersonal intimacy, high states of consciousness, voicing the impulse of evolution, evolving culture amidst the global crisis, awakening higher intuitive faculties, etc.
  • Every participant in a “We” will straddle an experience that’s shared with everyone else, and also his own unique experience and perspective.
  • There is surrendering into witnessing; there is also surrendering beyond witnessing, in which the detatched looker gives way to nondual awareness.
  • There are numerous intersubjective we-fields in which we are participating, and each expresses different levels of development.
  • One of the reasons we-space practice is so popular is that we can feel the Eros, the creative advance into novelty, as we co-explore the new evolutionary territory of higher intersubjectivity.
  • There is special significance to the sequence 3-1-2 (3rd-person, 1st-person, 2nd-person).
  • Shared states of consciousness and shared stages of consciousness are both important:
    • States are more readily transmissive than stages which must be co-enacted.
    • Most we-space practices begin with state practices.
    • However, intersubjective triple-loop learning is possible, leading to higher intersubjective stages.
  • And much more!

The Evolution of the Integral We-Space: A Conversation with Ken Wilber
Recorded 7.23.2013

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The Shooting of Trayvon Martin: A Difficult Conversation

MartinThis conversation focuses on the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager coming home at night, who was shot dead by a white man, George Zimmerman. Zimmerman, who was armed, was patrolling as a neighborhood watch volunteer because of a recent increase in local crime. An altercation between the two men ensued, and the young black man was shot dead. Zimmerman was charged with murder, but was eventually acquitted for the crime because of the implications of very particular “stand your ground,” gun laws in Florida.

For many, this acquittal was outrageous, invoking a long, devastating, and pernicious history of racial persecution and inequity for African Americans. It prompted demonstrations, press conferences calling for justice for Trayvon, and boycotts of Florida by musicians and artists like Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Jay Z and Beyonce. The conservative pundits described George Zimmerman as a good man and citizen, someone willing to do his civic duty who is now being persecuted and deprived of a just outcome to a fair trial.

Finally, President Obama felt compelled to speak as a black man about his identification with the young Trayvon, asking white America to remember how different the historical experience of injustice is for African Americans, calling on us to continue to strive to move forward together, and affirming that younger generations are better off than the rest of us when it comes to race relations.

Having conversations is one of the ways we move forward, but conversations about race are always difficult because of the tension innate in the duality of power differences and the history of extreme injustice and pain associated to these dynamics. Ken Wilber reminds us to take an evolutionary view, remembering that slavery was a part of the agricultural period of human cultural development. He points out that it was the machines that finally freed our moral conscience to outlaw slavery. The U.S. was split between this developmental promise, North and South, and we are still living out the legacy of that cumbersome emergence in history.

In the upper quadrants, our good personal intentions to participate in a culture free from race bias may still be mixed with embedded and unconscious prejudice. Our personal wounding around these issues often blends in with the cultural struggle of the lower left, and we aren’t sure who we really are.

Questions about correct action abound, and even with changes in law and affirmative action, institutions in the lower right lag in their evolution, failing to express the most evolved part of who with the acknowledgement of where we have been. The activist part of our nature should and must continue to protest and to shout for quicker change. But the ethno-centric part of our consciousness easily erupts and defends as soon as we begin to talk about race, even when day-to-day, we live and experience reality through a world-centric lens in which race and ethnic bias appears absurd.

All of this makes this conversation an unwieldy proposition. And yet, the Integral map helps us to navigate this territory. Join us for a wander into the wilderness of a current tragedy related to race. You will find some familiar landmarks that may help you stay oriented and willing to stay in the conversation and be part of the struggle.

The Shooting of Trayvon Martin: A Difficult Conversation
Recorded 7.22.2013


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