Since we have started including discussions on various integral traditions here, we would like to know what the term "Integral" means to you.

Thanks kindly!

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For Centuries, the word Integral as in Integral Calculus gave sleepless nights to the students of mathematics world over. Now the word comes to haunt even those not that well familiar with mathematics. Please check the sample:


Oxford Dictionary Meaning

Integral Yoga

Integral Appreciation

Integral Studies

Integral Thought & Memory

Integral Education

Integral Life

Integral Spirituality

Integral World

Integral Theory

Integral Yoga Psychology

Integral Awakening

Next Step Integral

Spiral Dynamics Integral

Integral Mathematics

Integral Future, Integral Scholarship etc,


I am sure there will be hundreds of other uses of the word Integral. What can one make out of this. Great marketing people are always on the lookout for catchy new words to serve old wine (Integral Alcohol) in new bottle (Integral Packaging). 

Writing about what integral means as one can see from the list above is a big subject. But I think the most exciting meaning of the word in the context of this website, is that "integral" refers to a new "stage" in human consciousness and culture, one that is just appearing in a tiny percentage of the world's population. It is very simplistically put, the capacity to begin to see that we are part of an unfolding developing cosmic process that is evolving through a series of stages of development, in what Ken Wilber refers to as all four quadrants of reality, most importantly outwardly in the form of culture and inwardly in the form of consciousness. The ability to grasp this perspective and to transcend and include all the previous stages of our development (we are now generally moving into pluralistic in the modern west) gives one the beginnings of what could be called an integral worldview. What is significant about this stage of development is that one is able to appreciate all stages before it as part of a cosmic unfolding, whereas if one is for example stuck in a previous one, ie what might be called an ethnocentric stage of development, one will tend to percieve that anyone who does not for example see Jesus as the only saviour is going to go to hell. Part of the challenge of really appreciating what Integral means is that it takes quite a lot to understand its real significance, but many leaders in the field are convinced that it is going to be the next really significant leap we are going to make in terms of human development - consciousness and culture. For a real explanation, see Jean Gebser in terms of the beginnnings of this understanding and Ken Wilber as the most contemporary and major exponent.

Thanks Steve.


Do you think Bhagvad-Gita or Savitri contains Integral World-View as described above.


Part of the challenge of really appreciating what Integral means is that it takes quite a lot to understand its real significance, but many leaders in the field are convinced that it is going to be the next really significant leap we are going to make in terms of human development - consciousness and culture. For a real explanation, see Jean Gebser in terms of the beginnnings of this understanding and Ken Wilber as the most contemporary and major exponent.

That's a really interesting question. Re Bhagavad-Gita and other early great classical Indian religious texts, I think there was at least a profound perspective given that the purpose of the spiritual life was not just to transcend the world but to transform it by our own actions and being, if you like. But in my limited understanding, this message became quite lost over time and the transcendent, solitary yogic aspect dominated Indian spiritual understanding, see Shankara, and this was the case not only in the East but also in the West with Christianity. In terms of Savitri and Sri Aurobindo's vision generally, my own opinion is that he was the first spiritual figure in India for a very long time to introduce not only the term Integral but in the most radical way the understanding that the real goal is the transformation of human life. Hence "The Life Divine". Integral and evolutionary thinkers today are very much the inheritors of Sri Aurobindo's vision and I believe are attempting to develop this perspective and see it as the next stage in human development. Here is a relevant quote from spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen who is a pioneer of an evolutionary spirituality which owes a lot to Sri Aurobindo. Notice the intersection here of spirituality and science, of west and east.
"Evolution is a new spiritual orientation. Most of us with a Western education are familiar with the idea of cosmic evolution—we’re aware that the cosmos is in a process of ever-greater complexification and that we are part of that evolving process. We’re aware of the Darwinian notion of biological evolution and accept the scientific evidence about how life has evolved. And some of us are even aware of the notion of cultural evolution, the recognition that culture has been developing over time through a series of stages. But very few of us are really awake to the notion of spiritual evolution. Seeing evolution as a spiritual unfolding that has an exterior and an interior, and understanding that our own experience of subjectivity is the leading edge of the interior of that creative process, is a very recently emerging idea. Traditionally, spiritual teachings pointed to a static attainment. The aspiration for enlightenment was the aspiration to come to rest in a steady state—in nirvana, in heaven. But when spirituality is reinterpreted from an evolutionary perspective, it is the aspiration for infinite becoming. The evolutionary impulse is an infinite reaching towards the future that affects the way we think about everything. Now we are no longer looking for spiritual liberation and release beyond the world, or after we die. We realize that the spiritual release is found in unconditionally, radically, and totally embracing the creative process of infinite becoming, as ourselves. It’s a very different orientation to spiritual liberation."
Incidentally Andrew Cohen and one of the leading Integral pioneers Steve McIntosh from the USA are going to be speaking with other spiritual teachers, philosophers and cultural commentators at a Festival at the end of this month in Islington. See this link for more details if you are interested. I am going myself...
Thanks very much for your question Capt.Anand. After all that...what do YOU think?!

Thanks Steve. What do I think? Several things:


1. You have just managed to convert me by the sheer depth and eloquence of the short exposition on "Integral".

2. Indeed, I think "Transformation" is the key. As had been for the ages. What will be the process mechanism of this transformation needs to be explored beyond Ken WIlber and the likes. What role "networking" plays in this transformation is what we need to explore over here, ourselves.

3. What happens to ordinary people like us carrying proteins within our DNA for greed, anger, jealousy, lust etc. Will we be stamped out or transform? History tells us that even great tecahers like Buddha or Christ or many others have not been very successful in transforming these proteins.

4. What software applications are available for common people who can perhaps only recognize what a mouse or a keyboard is and are not programmers, to connect with this "Transformation"?


Thanks again. Your comments have made this topic most relevant.

Ad 2.  Aspiration to be of spiritual service is the key. A healthy group to work in is very important too as it sets up a nourishing environment to grow in.


Ad 4. There is some interest now with commercial companies to stimulate the development of social apps for the smartphone. Think of apps for locating neighbours who want to eat together, help each other with practical jobs, etc.

On a larger scale, there could be apps for facebook to exchange services worldwide, between friends on facebook, or between friends of friends, or basically anybody, free of money, but possibly measured in time-units spent on helping each other. This would be a kind of global-exchange-system, a variant of local  exchange trading systems. This is part of my vision for the future. Money in that case would not be needed for such exchanges. Just time-units to measure the value of a service. There are already such systems on a local scale, like Ithaca hours. look it up on the net if you want to learn more about it.

It's just a matter of time before such applications are being developed. It is already possible now, with the help of web software. STRO in The Netherlands has developed a web-based accounting system for LETSystems called Cyclos. This is open source software! This is already in use in my country and also serves to help poor people in Brazil and elsewhere. A LETSystem can help to forego the limits of raw capitalism. This is now proved daily by its use worldwide in many local communities! .


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