The Integral Movement: Past, Present, and Future

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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.

Listen as Roger describes the current status of the movement, identifies some potential traps that we may fall into, and suggests some of the key ideas that the integral approach has to offer the rest of the world. Most importantly, you will learn what you can do in your own life, work, and play to help bring integral perspectives and solutions to a world that so desperately needs them.

This dialogue explores Roger Walsh’s keynote address at the 2008 Integral Theory Conference. At the conference, Roger was asked to provide some reflective comments that would help the field see itself, especially its blind spots and shadow. Roger delivered in spades! Not only were his points and illustrative stories poignant, but he also gave a dynamic and entertaining delivery. (It turns out he spent some time as a stand-up comic. Who would have guessed?). He covers topics that will interest the entire Integral Life community, including how we can optimize the impact of integral ideas, fighting developmental complacency, and the traps that await us at each stage.

One of the extraordinary qualities of integral consciousness is the ability to simultaneously challenge yourself to be something greater than who you are, while loving yourself exactly as you are. If we can muster the strength and compassion to be both completely honest with ourselves and kind to ourselves, not only can we overcome the many obstacles that we inevitably face throughout our journey, but these obstacles can be seen for what they actually are: stepping stones that can take us from our potential to our purpose, from our brokenness to our wholeness, from our fragile humanity to our unbreakable divinity.

In this fascinating dialogue, Roger gives a realistic summary of the condition of the Integral movement today. In short, his observation is this: it is still coalescing, still trying to find enough traction to grow from a “cognitive minority” to a viable force in the academic and cultural mainstream. Though we can already see signs of this occurring around us, it is a slow and organic process and cannot be hurried by any artificial means.

That said, there are certainly things you can do to help: learn the integral tools—like Integral Life Practice—that can help you live an extraordinary and whole life, while helping you take broader and more encompassing perspectives in every domain you touch.

Obviously this can be a sometimes painful path, beset with its own breed of lions and tigers and bears (oh my!). In the second installation, titled Potential Traps, Roger outlines some of the afflictions common to Integral living—including complacency and stagnation in our growth, shadow games and ego posturing, developmental allergies and aversions, and the dangers of when our knowledge and conceptual understanding begins to outpace our wisdom, experience, and insight.

(On a personal note, I have been working with Ken Wilber, Integral Institute, and Integral Life for just about 20 years, and as I was editing this dialogue and listening to Roger’s laundry list of possible pathologies, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had fallen into almost every single trap at one point or another—many of which I continue to fall into today. As such, Roger’s presentation offered a much-needed rallying call for my own growth, practice, and personal embodiment of the Integral vision—awakening me to many of my own missteps and misgivings, while provoking me to deepen my own practice and recommit myself to my work, my relationships, and my art.)

We live in a time of unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Never before have we had the power to imperil our species and our planet, and never before have we had the power to heal our species to the degree we can today—bringing people to new levels of prosperity, well-being, health, and maturity. The choices our generation makes will determine whether we leave behind us an evolving civilization and a fertile earth, or a failed species and a plundered planet. We have the power to do both. Part of the power available to us is the integral vision. It is our remarkable privilege to be able to realize this vision ourselves, to embody and express it in our lives, to use it to better understand the world, and to let it use us as willing instruments to help heal our world. What greater privilege could there be than to use this profound vision to play our role to serve, help, heal, and awaken all beings? Listen as Roger and Ken discuss how we can all do our part to make our world just a little more sane.

Text by Corey deVos

Roger Walsh

About Roger Walsh

Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D., has spent nearly a quarter century researching and practicing in the world's great spiritual traditions. His critically acclaimed book, Essential Spirituality, is a summary of that wisdom, outlining the seven spiritual practices common to the world's major religions.

Ken Wilber

About Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber is a preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative world philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.