Roger Walsh explains how we can bring the Integral vision into our personal and professional lives and use it to make a meaningful impact in the world.
First, Roger says, in order to be taken serious by the mainstream world we need to become really good in our own professional discipline or field, practice rigorous thinking, refine and test our ideas and publish our work in mainstream outlets. This alone takes years of dedication and high-quality work. Further, we need to master integral ideas themselves and apply them in our field.
C.G. Jung once coined the term “Gnostic Intermediary” referring to the English translator of the I-Ching. In order to capture and transmit the spirit of the I-Ching he himself had to transform and embody its wisdom in order to effectively communicate it in another language, not sticking to the exact letter, but to the spirit of the message. Walsh pointed out that the same is needed for integral to become effective in the mainstream world. We ourselves need to become Gnostic Intermediaries for Integral by “marinating” ourselves in its wisdom and knowledge, by mastering the concepts and language of our target audience and by translating these new integral insights and ideas into their concepts and language.
He asks us to reflect on the question what the most valuable integral idea is for ourselves. What integral idea am I called to get out in the world the most? What integral idea is the world most calling for? Walsh made clear that this type of question is not a question with a definite answer but rather an ongoing “wisdom question”, like a koan, with an ever changing, ever deepening answer. He then proceeds by outlining his six most precious insights and concepts from Integral Theory:
- Integral ideas are crucial in a time of information overload in order to make coherent sense of the world as a whole.
- Adult development is possible.
- Contemplative practices and disciplines can foster psychological and spiritual growth and maturity.
- There are two very different kinds of religion: conventional and trans-conventional. Their confusion and lumping together is nothing less than tragic.
- Spiritual disciplines are effective psycho-technologies to train, tame, transform and altogether transcend the mind and don’t require blind faith – only willingness to experiment with them.
- The psycho-technologies of all the great religions and wisdom traditions from all over the world universally share seven common qualities and accompanying practices or injunctions to embody them:
- transform motivation
- live ethically
- develop concentration
- develop emotional maturity
- refinement of awareness
- cultivate wisdom
If we want to develop these we should take heed of the advice of the Buddha to seek good company and hang out with the right people. For Roger this is one of the invaluable gifts of gatherings like the IEC. In order to address the many global problems and win the “race between consciousness” and catastrophe he urges us to simultaneously work on healing the exterior and the interior worlds and their pathologies, simultaneously dealing with the right-hand and left-hand quadrants, as well as resting in the transcendental awareness, the background radiation of ever-present Spirit.
Not only do we need to become “Gnostic Intermediaries”, but also “Perspectival Therapists” who recognize partial, limited or destructive perspectives and intervene by bringing to bear wider, deeper and more encompassing ones. Walsh underscores that we are forever called to continue our own path of maturation in order to be able to do so.
As the most effective way of merging work in the outer and inner dimension simultaneously and transforming it into a spiritual practice Roger recommends the time tested practice of Karma Yoga. It has three steps:
- Offer your work to a higher purpose.
- Do your work as impeccably as you can.
- Let go of any attachments to the outcome.
If done well and consistently this practice will gradually transform us and the world and eventually even dissolve the arbitrary split between the two.
Image by Android Jones [+view gallery]
Text by Dennis Wittrock
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.