Coronavirus: Making Sense of Our Sense-Making

Beena Sharma Cognitive, Defenses, Editor's Picks, Integrative Metatheory, Intrapersonal, Life Conditions, Perspectives, Presentations, Psychology, Self-Identity, Values, Video, What is human development?, World Affairs, Worldviews 6 Comments


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Beena Sharma and Susanne Cook-Greuter offer a must-see presentation to help us understand the many healthy and unhealthy responses we are seeing to the coronavirus pandemic, all the way up and down the spiral of development.

Chances are you are already seeing all of these responses surfacing all around you: in your social media feeds, among your friends and family, and even within yourself. And it can be confusing at times, seeing all these different and often contradictory responses flooding into your consciousness all at once, and trying to navigate our way through them in order to figure out which are more true, which are more partial, and which you resonate with the most. This presentation will help reduce that confusion for you — giving you a way to fold all of these different views and values into a greater sense of wholeness and meaning, while also giving you permission to return to some of these earlier stages in order to tend to the many concerns and anxieties that may be present for you there.

It’s important, after all, to remember that none of these stages are inherently “better” or “worse” than any other. Although there are certainly healthy and unhealthy expressions at each stage, and our capacity for both complexity and compassion both increase as we move into the later stages of development, we can nonetheless also find within each of these stages a series of responses that are perfectly appropriate for the various life conditions we may find ourselves in. Sometimes the intelligences and capacities associated with earlier stages are best suited for a particular set of problems, and less suitable for other problems. Sometimes only later stages are capable of handling a certain magnitude of complexity, and other times these later stages can over-complexify certain problems and make things worse.

Which means that all of these stages have their appropriate place, both out in the world and within ourselves.

So join us as Beena and Susanne help us sort through all of this, taking us on an intimate 1st-person journey from the earliest stages of growth all the way to the deepest transpersonal stages of unity consciousness.

Text by Corey deVos

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Beena Sharma

About Beena Sharma

Beena Sharma is President of the Vertical Development Academy, and an international consultant committed to serving leaders and organizations in their growth endeavors. . Beena is a Certified MAP Scorer, Certified Leadership Maturity Coach and certifying Master Coach. Beena is a lead facilitator of the VeDA Coach Certification Program and consults with organizations interested in implementing vertical development. Beena is trained in Polarity Thinking at the Mastery level and integrates that expertise in her coaching and consulting practice.

Susanne Cook-Greuter

About Susanne Cook-Greuter

Dr. Susanne Cook-Greuter, born in Switzerland, is an internationally known authority on mature adult development, continuing the work of developmental pioneer Jane Loevinger. Her thesis, Postautonomous Ego Development (1999), is a landmark study in the characteristics and assessment of highly developed and influential individuals and leaders. She holds a doctorate in education from Harvard University, and is also a founding member of Integral Institute.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.

Notable Replies

  1. We want to know what you think! How did the presentation land for you? Was it helpful for you? Do you have any questions you would like us to respond to in a later episode? Let us know!

  2. I really appreciated this presentation! It provided a bidirectional understanding of responses to the pandemic vis a vis developmental levels.

    First of all, I received a clear understanding of how the levels of development shape the wide range of responses to the pandemic that we encounter, both from others and within my own experience. Secondly, the presentation brought their powerful integrally-informed stage development model out of my abstract mode of understanding into a much more felt sense of what the levels represent in lived experience.

    I’m grateful to Beena for providing this offering at this time and recommend her outstanding Polarities course as well. Thanks also to Susanne and Corey for their excellent insights and clarifications throughout the discussion.

  3. Hi Corey,

    given that there exists absolutely no objective scientific evidence that viruses exist and that the existence of viruses is merely based on collective agreement within the context of the reductionist orange worldview of the medical establishment, I have great reservations about quite a few of the statements used to illustrate the higher stages of vertical development. For verification of my claim see here

    People are dying but not because of a non-exisiting virus. The “virus” appears from my perspective merely as a figment of collective ignorance/imagination. What is very real is the collective fear, uncertainty, loss of control and the ensuing clash of different world views, exacerbated by the ineffectual ways of delaing with these states through lock down, social distancing, or mask carrying.

    In his model of community building Scott Peck distinguishes between 4 stages: pseudo-community, chaos, stillness/death, true community. Applied to the current collective situation and the virus pandemic I see humanity in a clear state of chaos with our elected leaders acting just like Scott Peck describes:

    “What they are proposing, one way or another, is virtually always an “escape into organization.“ It is true that organizing is a solution to chaos. Indeed, that is the primary reason for organization: to minimize chaos. The trouble is, however, that organization and community are also incompatible. Committees and chair people do not a community make.”

    Based on the assumption that there is the evolutionary impulse, pushing humanity to face death in order to collectively transform into higher stages of consciousness and deeper levels of community, the assumption of a virus appears as a welcome scape goat to project our collective fears on and to mobilize all our reactive fight/flight resources from lock downs to forced vaccinations.

    However, if we dare to step out of the outdated virus-paradigm, we will face more fear and uncertainty, because now we will have to come up with completely new explanations and theories about the origin of diseases and how to cure them.

    Having said that, my question is: are you willing to address the perspective that viruses don’t exist, that the entire pandemic is the result of a reductionist orange world view but driven by an evolutionary impulse triggering a staggering amount of colletive fear and uncertainties and that we need to create a new paradigm, within which we can address these fears and uncertainties more appropriately?

  4. Addressing the perspective that viruses don’t exist: well, there are many perspectives, some useful, some not so useful. My view is that the podcast about making sense of making sense addresses just that. Disclaimer: my wife is a doctor on the forefront of the battle against this virus.
    Nothing is real and in this sense the corona virus doesn’t exist, just the same as you and I and oranges don’t exist. Given that people are suffering and dying, is this a useful perspective for our health services to take? I think not.
    If we look at reality, is there a perspective in which we see people suffering, dying, grieving? Yes there is. Can it be said we are a part of that reality? I believe it can be so said. Within that perspective, do we take the view that the death suffering and grief is something we want to promote? My view is no, we don’t want to promote it, rather we would prefer it to be lessened.
    Ok, we can take the perspective that the grief, death and suffering us an illusion and so remove it at a stroke. Has that helped? No, because the death grief and suffering is still rampant in our day to day perspective and it is this grief death and suffering we want to lessen.
    Does it make sense to address the suffering death and grief using the tools that are available in the perspective where the death grief and suffering we want to lessen exist? I think that makes sense.
    Let’s follow the track: the grief arises in response to the death and suffering, so if we reduce the death and suffering, we reduce the grief. So let’s reduce the death and suffering. In the perspective we inhabit, we have a paradigm of health care which has proven to be so successful over the last century that it is hard to grasp just how successful it has been in reducing the causes of death and suffering. There are people working within that paradigm who have incredible knowledge and resources which they are using now to reduce death, suffering and grief. Would it be helpful to access those people and resources, given that their paradigm is the most successful one known to us at reducing death, grief and suffering? I would say yes to that.
    Do these people say that the virus exists? Yes, all credible experts working within the paradigm say it exists. Are their procedures for reducing death grief and suffering based on it existing? Yes.
    From this same paradigm, the experts are saying if we ignore the virus - for example on the basis that it doesn’t exist- millions upon millions will die.
    So to me, the most appropriate approach, if we want to reduce death, suffering and grief is to follow the most successful paradigm in reducing death grief and suffering. And if that means accepting that the virus exists, then so be it. I’m happy to live with that.
    Further, for all of those who don’t believe it exists, fine, but please keep to the lockdown, social isolation and the other measures the medical experts say are necessary. Why should you do that if you don’t believe that the virus exists? Because your paradigm that the virus doesn’t exist has no credible evidence for any successful procedures for reducing death grief and suffering.

  5. Hey Gregg, so glad you enjoyed the show. As for someone who has some experience in this area, you might consider talking to @Greg_Thomas. Here are the pieces with Greg that we have on the site:

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