ithout wisdom, knowledge becomes dangerous. This is as true for integral knowledge as it is any other. When our knowledge so far outpaces our wisdom, we can fall in all sorts of traps — including know-it-all arrogance, spiritual bypassing, self-aggrandizing mysticism, bad interpersonal hygiene, and possibly even diabetes and tooth decay.
This can be a challenge for all communities, including the integral community. Especially when we are living at a time when information is so overabundant, and perspectives are so polarized. We are drowning in information, and most of it is bad and broken information, totally lacking any real enfoldment mechanism at all — and it takes a fair amount of wisdom just to be able to tell the good from the bad.
Which is why Ryan and I wanted to do this special episode of Inhabit, to take a fuller look at what exactly “integral wisdom” means and what sorts of wisdoms tend to naturally fall out of the integral map itself — quadrant wisdom, stage wisdom, shadow wisdom, type wisdom, polarity wisdom, etc. — all of which help us to enact that integral map in increasingly skilllful, friendly, and effective ways. Watch as we explore a number of practices and perspectives to help you bring your own wisdoms to the surface, allowing you to move through the world with more skill, compassion, insight, and humility.
A Self-Test for Spiritual Bypassing
One of our callers had a question about spiritual bypassing — how to notice when we are doing, and what to do about it when we find ourselves heading in that direction.
Here’s a little test I came up with for myself when I was traveling the waters of “imaginal spirituality” in my twenties, and trying to find the other shore. Because I also remember feeling like I was privy to some sort of “superknowledge” that somehow set me apart from most other people, because I could see something that they couldn’t see. And I really liked that feeling. But it didn’t take me long to figure out that I was headed down some fairly dark alleys.
So, in order to pull myself back out, I simply started asking myself: “Does my ‘spiritual knowledge’ make me feel MORE special, or LESS special?”
If I answered the first way, I knew I was doing something wrong.
And if I was doing something wrong, I would then break it down into a number of other questions:
- Am I using my spirituality as a way to create meaning, comfort, or importance for a separate self that feels lost without it?
- Am I using it to try to impress people so they think I am smart/wise/woke?
- Am I using it to get laid? Is there some unconscious sexual self-selection going on here?
- Am I using it to prevent people from seeing my faults, failings, and insecurities?
- Am I using it as a way to insulate myself from the cruel physics of the “real world”?
- Am I using it as a way to meet my own needs around belonging and self-esteem?
- Am I using it as a way to elevate myself above people who don’t see the world the same way I do?
- Am I using it as a way to feel like I belong to some esoteric elite, as opposed to all the rest of the sheeple?
- Am I thinking about effortless awareness, or am I actually relaxing into it?
I have absolutely answered “yes” to every single one of these at one point or another. I still do at times. And simply acknowledging and owning that “yes” — making that subject into object, shining some a bit more light on the shadow, bringing just a little bit more embodied awareness — helped me discover the next phase of my own spiritual life, where the imaginal occupied a far less important space in my consciousness and was replaced instead by an appeal for ordinary “quiet” awakening, selfless service, and getting back to the marketplace where I can hopefully make some sort of impact. I don’t go around looking for spiritual fireworks any more — give me that good old fashioned “simple feeling of being” any day!
Just some cairns from my own personal path, for whatever its worth.
Previous Episodes of Inhabit
In an era drenched in data, a desire for wisdom has been reborn. Where can we go to learn about wisdom? The answer is clear: to the world’s great contemplative religions and their accompanying philosophies and psychologies. This ILP module offers distillations of the world’s accumulated wisdom—ancient and modern, religious and scientific, philosophical and psychological. It is a unique resource that brings together our collective understanding of wisdom and the ways to develop it.
Roger Walsh and Ken Wilber
Climate change, wealth inequality, ideological polarization, terrorism, religious radicalization — these are some of the truly wicked problems of the world. And none of our most pressing global challenges can be navigated or overcome without a momentous leap of collective wisdom, as well as a commensurate increase in our ability to recognize and leverage that wisdom. But what exactly is this wisdom that so many of us are searching for? Where can we find it? How do we cultivate it in our own lives and make it available to more people?
Roger Walsh and Ken Wilber
Roger Walsh offers one of the finest overviews of the integral movement that we have ever seen — where we’re at, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. Now more than ever, the integral movement is poised to make a tremendous impact upon the world.
Beena Sharma and Corey deVos
In this premiere episode of our new monthly Polarity Wisdom show, Beena and Corey introduce the Integrating Polarities training, taking an in-depth look at how the Integrating Polarities method can help accelerate our growth into integral stages of thinking and being, while deepening our enjoyment and enactment of the integral model itself.
About Ryan Oelke
Ryan Oelke is a co-founder of Buddhist Geeks and founder of Awakening in Life. He has an MSEd in counseling psychology and is contemplative teacher of awakening, healing, and embodiment. He has 18+ years of experience in meditation, particularly in the Tibetan Buddhist and Dzogchen lineages, and is a certified teacher in Judith Blackstone’s Realization Process. Ryan teaches meditation and practices to reveal natural presence and to cultivate an engaged, responsive life. He lives in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, NC.
About Corey deVos
Corey W. deVos is the proverbial "man behind the curtain". He is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of KenWilber.com. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996.