Navigating the Meaning Crisis

John VervaekeUncategorized 5 Comments


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John Vervaeke, PhD is an award-winning lecturer at the University of Toronto in the departments of psychology, cognitive science and Buddhist psychology. His work involves constructing a bridge between science and spirituality in order to understand the experience of meaningfulness and the cultivation of wisdom so as to afford awakening from what is often experienced by members of society as “the meaning crisis.”

In 2022, Nomali Perera facilitated a study group at Integral Life using the teachings of John Vervaeke from his Awakening from the Meaning Crisis YouTube video series. This video is from Mr. Vervaeke’s visit with study group participants for a lively Q&A.

In the first half of this very rich discussion, John talks with Nomali, Jeff, and the rest of the group about his three major concerns about stage models, and why he doesn’t emphasize them in his own work:

  1. Psychometric skepticism – uncertainty around how we are measuring and validating these measurements
  2. The problem of the “monolithic mind” — the idea that the mind is a “whole”, which wholly moves from one stage to the next,
  3. Underlying founders’ bias — stage models often bias the model-maker, who tend to represent themselves as the highest stage(s) in the model.

Whether we agree with John’s criticisms of stage models, or we see these criticisms already being addressed by other elements of Integral metatheory, these nonetheless offer some exceptionally important guardrails around how we wield and communicate these ideas. Integral theory in many ways represents a “simplicity on the other side of complexity” — but if we are being overly simplistic with these ideas, then we begin to lose some much-needed resolution, and are left only with a blurry map that can be misread and misapplied in all sorts of ineffective or even dangerous ways.


3:58 – The issue developmental stages which is a popular meaning-making lens in the Integral world, but not so much in Vervaeke’s material.

18:09 – Jeff Salzman’s thoughts on the use of Stages in Integral

29:56 – Question about martial arts as a spiritual practice

39:00 – Navigating the meaning crisis in the era of a highly complex digital environment

45:08 – What would you do differently if you were create the Awakening from the Meaning Crisis course in 2022?

51:01 – A comment on Agape

54:04 – How can we exapt A.I to be a relevance engine in these times of information overload?

1:00:01 – Wellbeing, positive processing and moral injury

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John Vervaeke

About John Vervaeke

John Vervaeke is an award-winning lecturer at the University of Toronto in Psychology, Cognitive Science and Buddhist Psychology. His academic interests include wisdom, mindfulness, meditation, relevance realization, general intelligence, and rationality. He is the author of Awakening from the Meaning Crisis Youtube series and co-author of Zombies in Western Culture: A 21st Century Crisis. He has been engaging in Dialogos, alongside Jordan Hall and Guy Sengstock, and other conversations on Youtube.

Nomali Perera

About Nomali Perera

Nomali Perera, MA, PCC, has been in the field of leadership development coaching, facilitation and teaching since 2007. Nomali is a trained facilitator of the Immunity to Change™ process, a Master Coach at Life XT and a certified Integral Master Coach through Integral Coaching Canada. Nomali has also been a professional consultant in people development and training in Brazil and Mexico. She currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.