What are the implications for our lives?
The integral lens changes the way we see business, education, medicine, economics, social evolution, spirituality, sustainability, human nature and human beings’ relationships to each other and the cosmos. The list of specific changes is long. Still, there a single unifying thread gives consistency to the entire list. It is the rigorous explanation of why:
Humanity is a Collaborative Learning Species
whose evolution follows universal energy/web principles and patterns
Borne out by humanity’s well-known love of talking, finding patterns and pooling information to create elaborate theories, worldviews, and cultures — this idea is at once ancient, obvious and more than it seems. The surprise is how much our view of everything human changes as the physical understanding of why we are a learning species embedded in a larger learning cosmos unfolds. For example, in the integral view:
- Evolution is an energy process that involves self-organization, information and the patterns and shapes produced by dynamics of interconnected bodies and systems.
- Mind and body are inseparable entwined in living systems because information (the basis of intelligence) and organization (the basis of metabolism and bodily form) both emerge from energy flow. More startling still, the major stages of human consciousness (societal mind) co-evolve with major stages of social structure and economic emphasis (societal body) because these too are inseparably intertwined.
- Because learning is our survival strategy, the single greatest cause of social, economic, and environmental disaster is a societal-level failure to learn from one’s own mistakes and in the face of changing times. This failure invariable comes from mistaking the dominant mental map for reality’s actual terrain and from power systems stifling the natural learning that is invariably trying to rise. In other words, social regression and collapse comes from clinging to outdated beliefs long past their time.
- Therefore, William Butler Yeats’ belief that, “education is not a pail to be filled, but a fire to be ignited,” applies to both individuals and society as a whole. Our current system of education tends to smother the fire. If we don’t make more empowering, we will eventually fail like every other imperialist civilizations before us.
- Instead of science being at odds with the great religions, Integral Science produces a physical view of the cosmos as a “Great Ordering Oneness” (Plato’s term) that closely matches spiritual descriptions from saints and sages across time, including most of the original, non-anthropomorphic conceptualizations of God. Thus, in the Integral view, the cosmos is an omnipresent creative force that created, envelops, connects, and still invisibly guides all things through a world that is imbued with purpose and suffused with spirit. The best way to survive and prosper in this world is to live in harmony with each other and all things. Morality and ethics, therefore, reflect both the rules of God, the rules of nature, and the rules for running a healthy civilization.
- Because so many new ideas reconfirm ancient ones, Integral Science envisions a future with an extremely ancient heart and a more facile mind. At the same time, the underlying rules of collaborative learning provide important practical insights into how to run schools, business organizations, religions, and economic webs.
So, from education and economics to science and spirituality, hard-won insights from across time and place shift, rearrange, and realign into a commonsense picture of humanity and cosmos that is at once old, new, more appealing, and more profound.
What can you do with these ideas?
Integral Science impacts the same three elements ? content, research, and cultural change ? in every field. Of these, the most important is the cultural/organizational change.
Content: Integral Science provides a powerful new understanding of how energy flow and interdependent “web” dynamics produce universal patterns and principles underlie the growth, development and operation of all things, from the origin of matter and the unfolding of a fern leaf, to the cyclical, rise and fall of civilization. The discovery of theses patterns and principles shift the content in a host of fields. For example, the role of energy principles such as pressure, self-organization, intricacy, and flow in natural ecosystems helps us understand economies and human societies as similar energy- and information-flow ecosystems that follow natural laws. Similarly, since all living organisms are built of energy and web dynamics, holistic and energy interventions such as acupuncture, nutrition, kinesiology, etc., become more logical modalities for health and healing, while the allopathic approach of surgery and poisonous pharmaceuticals become the choice of last resort.
Since “web” thinking has been quietly sweeping through virtually every field of science—from anthropology, brain research, and economics to genetics, mathematics and physics —for decades already, a large number of specific solutions to pressing problems have already been developed. The Integral framework allows researchers to connect these specific, partial solutions into a more coherently integrated whole.
Research: new mathematical tools such as fractals, attractors, morphodynamics, and power-laws open a new era of precision and predictability in complex systems that once seemed immune to scientific rigor. Power laws, for example, can be used to discern what economic ecosystem ? local, regional, national or international ? governs a given city’s prosperity. In turn, knowing which dynamics dominate helps policy-makers craft more appropriate fiscal, tax, and monetary (etc.) adjustments. New tools can also be used to quantify outcomes from the holistic medical modalities mentioned above.
Cultural Change: The biggest implication, however, is to our understanding of what we need to do culturally and organizationally, if we want to thrive at the pace of change and level of complexity of today’s world. Modern science created a rather grim view of humanity as competitive economic individuals, driven by selfish genes, directed by command-and-control hierarchies, bent on empire-building and embedded in a nature “red in tooth and claw.” Integral Science, on the other hand, shows humanity to be a collaborative learning species that lives in human ecosystems built of diverse specialists who all depend on one another. Timely and accurate information flowing to all corners are crucial to survival and characteristics such as critical thinking, grassroots empowerment, integrity, commitment, honesty, accuracy, intelligence, and flexibility are more important to organizational health than how much profit the stock-holders take home. Here, hierarchy represents a system of servant leadership, protection and facilitation, not a system of privilege and control. Since modern organizational beliefs tend to stifle synergy, diversity and intelligence, virtually all-large modern organizations are unhappy, over-worked system that mistake mind-numbing frenzy for the ability to learn rapidly, wisely and well.
What does the Integral Science Institute do with these ideas?
The Integral Science Institute’s mission is to develop Integral Scientific principles and to and apply them to solve real world problems in business, education, medicine, economics, community building, sustainability and spiritual growth. This mission is part of a larger vision ? the development of a just, resilient, “sustainable” Global Integral Civilization.
Because sound cultural change is crucial to human survival, we focus first on education and cultural retraining. We offer “Finding Your Path” workshops for individuals of all ages designed to help them bring forth the unique constellation of talents that define their mission in life and their role in the human ecosystem. We also offer Collaborative Culture courses for organizations and leaders designed to help them understand and implement Integral synergetic learning principles in their organizations and their lives.
Because sound specifics are needed in every field, we are also developing books and videos that address business, education, medicine, the perennial philosophy, and sustainability respectively. We already have numerous articles available already.
Because building an intelligent Integral network is also crucial, we seek partners in all fields. We are, therefore, available for discussions, training, exchanges, and research projects in your field.
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