Conversations From the Road

Robb SmithAudio, Cognitive, Conversations, Integrative Metatheory, Perspectives, Premium, World Affairs, Worldviews Leave a Comment


n my travels, I’ve been privileged to sit down with members of the Integral Life community and talk with them about their lives, their growth and what’s on their minds. During these meetings I make it clear that I’m not a coach, and as they are pro bono, I can’t guarantee any specific outcomes. I’m just an experienced integral practitioner who can listen and act as a sounding board to help friends think through issues in their lives. You are invited to listen in to those conversations we have received permission to publish. They are raw, mostly unedited, and often occur in cafes on the busy streets of European cities. I hope you enjoy.

—Robb Smith

PS: If you would like to connect with me, please let me know by either sending me an email (talktorobb [at] or by sending me a direct message on Twitter (if you’re interested in more frequent live updates on where I’ll be, I recommend you follow me on Twitter as I’ll post them there). I very much look forward to getting to know you and what’s on your integral mind.

As you listen to this conversation, you can use the Notes app in the bottom-left corner of your screen to record any reflections that may come up for you.


Marco Gagelmann, Germany


“Integral Philosophy is a very compelling story…[and there is a three-stage journey in relation to people’s own journey into it]… They go through a first stage of identification, literally falling in love with it because it feels not separate from oneself. This is who I am, this is my identity, this is me… And you have found it!… It is answering something you’ve looked for for a long time… But this is usually when someone turns around and looks around at the world and asks how to save everyone the way I was just saved. It’s really important to just notice that that’s what precisely grew the Church. That’s precisely what missionaries do. That’s precisely how every religion in the world grew… This Stage 1 identity that solves for the existential crisis of the prior stage and turns you into a missionary, to spread the gospel, to spread the good news.” — Robb Smith

Why isn’t Integral Philosophy a larger force in the world today? In this conversation, which took place remotely between the United State and Germany, Marco Gagelmann and I talk about one of the topics that privately I’ve probably been asked about most in the past 13 years: should we be evangelizing Integral Philosophy?

Marco found himself somewhere many people can relate to in their integral journey: somewhat dissatisfied with his own relationship to his integral knowledge and consciousness, burned out cognitively, at risk of dismissing it as disappointing and irrelevant to the main flows of world events. He found himself unsure of what his own integral journey should look like and how it might apply to the broader world, and whether any of it made sense in the bigger picture.

Join us as Marco and I dive into something I’ve never shared publicly before: the stages of an individual’s very own integral journey, and what it tells us about how we can show up and support the world’s movement more deeply into integrative pluralism. By the end I hope you will have at least one more constructive framing to hold Integral Metatheory’s role in the world and understand a lot more about the ethical conservativism we tend to show at Integral Life as we think about how we engage with the world.

“All of what you explained to me went directly to my integral heart. This talk was very freeing and at the same time confirming for me. You lifted the veil of the remaining uncertainty for me and now I can see the integral world from a totally free and peaceful perspective. My lifelong journey has come to a peaceful rest now that I have reached the deep feeling of certainty that all the cognitive struggle has been absolutely worth it, helping me to accept and feel that my cognitive exhaustion was the starting point for me really being integral. And what is so fantastic about this is that during our talk the confirmation that everything is exactly right the way it is, changed into a deep certainty in which all questions seem to be answered easily. I am curious where my lived and felt integral journey will lead me to. And I am thankful that I can and will be in service to everybody who feels a yearning to be welcomed by me in a space which is just opened up for everything which might and will arise within it.”

— Marco Gagelmann


Udom Tan, Bangkok


“We need very intelligent leaders in the west to think hard about how to support China to come into full maturity on the world stage in a way that we can integrate them but where we don’t give over to their most imperial instincts, their territorial instincts, their mercantilist instincts, and we don’t have that level of intelligence in Washington.” — Robb Smith

Asia is the most important continent in the world today. But with its emergence comes profound questions about the 21st century’s competing philosophical viewpoints as they relate to global governance of the human species. This discussion with Udom in Thailand occurred at the beginning of my time in Asia, just as the Ukraine scandal was breaking. Like many of my coaching discussions in Asia, strangely this one immediately gravitated towards the political situation in America, where under the weight of Green-stage media, technology and consciousness, all norms have shattered and all that is left is a raw war for power. In short, what’s happening in my home nation matters a lot to enlightened leaders in Asia.

During the course of this discussion, we examine the late-stage decline of American empire—what I write about in The Great Release—as it meets the confusion of a post-truth world and the rise of China. How does the withdrawal of America from world moral leadership and the willful destruction of soft power under President Trump give rise to a new competitive geopolitical landscape? How might we think about the healthy co-emergence of China amidst a new multipolar world? What are the promise and perils as China—with its relatively higher efficiency of agility—rises to replace the US as a leading development path for the planet in the 21st century, and does this presage a new cold war?

“The key with China ultimately is to create a strategy where you’re always creating a bigger whole that they’re a part of, to allow them a development path into a healthy 21st century. If you don’t create that bigger whole than it becomes a one to one competition between two elephants, and that’s a much harder path for the world to follow.”


Jorge Ochoa, Paris


“How do we create a Teal company that is economically sustainable? That, in one sentence, is one of the defining problems of the 21st century today.” — Robb Smith

How do we integrate the aggression of the Red stage of consciousness into service of a modern Orange-stage economy? How do we reconcile ourselves to the fierce competition and individualism called for in many of today’s social environments while also staying true to our deepest desire for, and value of, service to the broader community? That’s the central theme of this talk between Robb and Jorge Ochoa, a Mexican ex-pat living in France who left a corporate track at Unilever as a young man and spent the past twenty years living in a cloistered co-living community, only to decide it was now time to re-enter the world as an integral practitioner. Touching on everything from the evolution of social bodies, to the need to “know thyself” as you navigate the individual-collective polarity as you grow, this talk may be helpful to anyone who wonders how to better integrate the entire spiral within themselves in order to be of highest service.

Here’s Jorge’s reflections a little while after the discussion:

I discovered my allergy to the word “competition” and all that is related to it. I can feel in my body, in my guts, how this concept and what it represents for me has been rejected, feared, judged as something “diabolic” and therefore has fed my intellectual conviction of the superiority of collective holons over individual holons. Today I’m invited to work on all these shadows within myself, to clean up my notion of autonomy, self-desire and self-conviction, disidentifying them from egoism, individuality, narcissism or guilt. This way I’ll be able to know myself better, to respect myself, my choices, my history, and gain the self-confidence to show up as I really am.

— Jorge Ochoa


Greg Blair, Paris

Greg and I caught up in Paris to discuss the dilemma of attuning to one’s purpose when a job seems prosaic and not particularly growth-inducing. It’s safe to say we went far afield!

In this wide-ranging discussion, we talk about the opportunity for the emergence of integral marketing and whether it could transform lives. Along the way we get into how Apple is really a spiritual enterprise, how you escape a prison of your own making, and how integral post-metaphysics and the principles it entails seem well-designed to help us surf the waves of this era—the historical disruption we seem to be living in (what I’ve called “the great release”). We touch on why Twitter sucks, the prime directive to serve the health of the spiral, and why you shouldn’t introduce your friends to integral when you’re first getting into it (even though I’m now convinced we can actually create integral people). We end by talking about how to preserve your fullness and freedom by being wary of spaces of commitment, and of spaces of identity, that might prevent you from living an integral life.

Here’s Greg’s reflections a month after our discussion:

I came to Robb with a choice between two paths: transform what I have or create something new. I was sure that what I had at this moment was unacceptable, and that there were very strict “right” or “wrong” actions I could take with respect to it. Robb’s counsel has helped me to see that there is really much less of a “hard choice” to be made, and that whichever decision I do take is essentially ok, given my meaning structure. If an exploration through the green altitude is what pulls me, then go on that. If it’s something else that makes me feel alive, then go with that. Something in me had been policing: telling me that where I had been arriving to was not yet acceptable and therefore I must fix it, quickly. However, this rigid, binary perspective actually ignores the whole developmental aspect of life. We are all working through our imperfections, and we are imperfect as a necessity of evolution. Without having this acceptance for myself, it would be difficult to really accept where everyone else is in the course of their evolution. The problem I came with has more or less dissolved with this understanding, and this acceptance allows me to be where I am and to accept where change naturally will unfold from.

— Greg Blair

Robb Smith

About Robb Smith

Robb Smith is a leading thinker on the Transformation Age and the global Integral movement. He is the creator of the augmented leadership platform Context, co-founder and CEO of Integral Life and founder of the Institute of Applied Metatheory.