We live in a ‘white water’ world roiling with social and cultural turbulence that impede(s) our individual and collective will and ability to create collaborative solutions to the problems that we share. With our collective ability to work together compromised, our future is in doubt.
To navigate these turbulent waters all of Diamond’s initiatives are guided by Wilber’s integral paradigm and his ‘ AQAL’ map which illuminates a sturdy pathway forward in these difficult times. Challenging ourselves to learn about the AQAL map and following the injunctions in the ‘integral paradigm’ support the development of Integral consciousness which radically changes the ways we see and understand the world, ourselves in it, and our options for engagement with it.
What is Integral consciousness? When we see the whole of any issue (for instance conflict) through Integral consciousness, through a truly AQAL paradigm, we see how the contributions of the different worldviews, the different perspectives and experience arise and give shape to conflict. We see the diversity and relationships of cultural identities, values, and meaning of conflict. We see how individual meaning, values, and actions shape and are shaped by cultural contexts; and we see how the social structures and systems we create to contain our lives also shape and are shaped by our individual and collective meaning, values, behaviors, and interactions.
Describing the transition from post-modern progressivism to integral consciousness Steve McIntosh (2007) says that Integral consciousness is:
…a transcendence of postmodernism because it does what Postmodernism cannot: It fully recognizes the legitimacy and evolutionary necessity of all previous stages of development. Integral consciousness thus grows up by reaching down…we can begin to see how the degree of our transcendence is determined by the scope of our inclusion. (italics in original, p. 74)
Integral consciousness is living within the dialectical relationship between transcendence and inclusion, evolution and involution, recognizing the power of context in bringing forth different energies, worldviews, values, and actions. Cultivating Integral consciousness (social practices) requires the individual to embrace his or her own developmental journey, to increase awareness of the whole through the development of his or her consciousness. In fact, we cannot see the whole if we do not develop our consciousness. Being able to see the whole of conflict challenges our assumptions about the boundaries and frames that we have created around it in our attempts to make sense of it. Seeing the whole challenges our assumptions about who we are at the most fundamental levels of our being. Although it is not easy to do, cultivating Integral consciousness can become our biggest asset.
This inner work tends to strengthen one’s ability to handle increasingly complex situations, hold contrasts, synthesize positions, dissolve paradoxes, create connections between ideas, understand others and oneself on increasingly subtle levels, and access information beyond the rational mind and exterior world.
Challenging ourselves to develop a more Integral consciousness changes the ways we see and understand the world, ourselves in it, and our options for engagement with it. Integral consciousness, with its’ ‘AQAL eye’ is both a way of being and a tool for intervention into widespread social-cultural conflict and blows open the range of possibilities we have to work with, both externally and within ourselves.