I’d like to wish you the most heartfelt blessings for your New Year. I hope it is off to a great start, and represents a time of beautiful stillness and fertile transformation, the latter of which this letter is about. Allow me to start our new year together by recounting A Brief History of a Movement.
When I started my professional journey with the integral movement by co-founding Integral Life with Ken Wilber in 2006, I told Ken I was committing to a 30 year journey. It was clear to me, even in those first weeks of watching the movement as an interested observer, that the three stages of holonic dynamics—Identity, Differentiation, and Integration—fully applied to the integral movement itself.
At that time, The Integral Institute dominated (since 1999) the intellectual, spiritual and energetic milieux of the movement, classic characteristics of the first, Identity Stage of a holon’s growth—in this case, a social holon, and one that was tightly fused with the brilliance and living legend of the movement founder Ken Wilber himself. And yet, to his eternal credit, from day one Ken told me he never wanted the movement to be about him, rather he always wanted it to be about the ideas, committed to the richness of integrative love and ethic of inclusive compassion that grows rather naturally from the integral mind.
We entered the second, Differentiation Stage of the integral movement on the back of two events as we approached the end of the aughts. First, the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-2010 was both a blessing and a curse. It upended industries, thrashed organizations the world over, and reorganized social efforts of all kinds, ours included. While we’d already been thinking for several years that the movement needed to mature into its Differentiation Stage, the GFC provided the perfect set of real-world catalysts to mark the end of the Identity Stage and push a natural diversification of new entities and efforts.
The second event was the explosion of social/media technologies and models that dramatically diversified the noosphere, including the rise of Facebook, iPhone, YouTube, Twitter and others. It was a time of change, and I’m proud of our attendance to the whole during this period, as we actively supported the launch of more than a half-dozen “competitive” organizations across the landscape. We didn’t have a crystal ball, but we did believe that the movement would benefit from a diversifying encounter with the real-world in the form of differing points of views, strategies, organizations, and sustainability models.
Since then, the last ten years has seen the fragmentation of social media meetup with the birth of what I’ve called Emergent Teal, a set of voices, movements, organizations and media efforts that are all feeling into the contours of Teal consciousness. It’s been noisy, fragmented, and rich, and would not have been possible without leveraging the First Stage of the movement as its launchpad. And while it has been beautiful and liberating (even for us, as thankfully we are no longer a centerpiece of attention), it’s suffered from what all Stage 2 dynamics do: what it has gained in its liberating individuation, it has given up in its ability to cohere focused social action. Stage 2 has exchanged directed movement for uncoordinated motion.
If the first, Identity Stage of the integral movement lasted roughly a long decade (1999-2010), and the second, Differentiation Stage has also lasted roughly a decade (2010-2020, with a few years of deep pause for everyone due to a global pandemic), then 2023 marks what we discuss internally as the beginning of a third, Integration Stage, a time when we invite individuated, mature, committed members of the movement to join us to recohere around renewed social action. For the past two years, we’ve quietly prepared for the launch of a new, and what may end up being quite different, strategy for moving the movement forward.
In forthcoming announcements, I’m going to describe the seeds we’re planting at the dawn of this third, Integration Stage of the movement. The efforts will include a new think tank, new social action initiatives, new ways for you to become directly involved, and an ambitious new vision for how technology might help us overcome the terrible sensemaking fragmentation plaguing not just the dominant Green world-emergent but also even Emergent Teal.
Happy new year. And perhaps, a happy new stage.