In quantum theory, it has been shown that an entity is both particle-like and wave-like at the same time, and spreads out across the universe in infinite positions. The best way to conceive of this is to take a pluralistic perspective, to embrace the broadest approach possible: what can be called the integral view.
Integral means to integrate, to bring together, to join, to link, and to embrace (Wilber, 2000a, p. 2). If we adopt the integral view, and look at it from the largest and broadest perspective possible – basically, from a quantum perspective, in which the idea, like an electron, is spread out across the universe in infinite positions – we will come across the same concept that Ken Wilber has advocated in many of his writings. He writes that we would find this integral way:
In the Kosmos at large: finding a more comprehensive view – a Theory of Everything – that makes legitimate room for art, morals, science, and religion, and doesn’t merely attempt to reduce them all to one’s favorite slice of the Kosmic pie (Wilber, 2000a, p. 2).
This approach understands that all perspectives interrelate and interconnect: art, business, religion, medicine, science, sports, culture; the list of interrelationships is endless. Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), the great Indian sage who was one of the first postmodern writers to promote an integral philosophy (www.ikosmos.com) wrote:
Aurobindo defined the “one omnipresent Existence” as the Divine, or Spirit. Spirit’s relationship with humanity, Aurobindo believed, was two folds: we were meant, through evolution, to ascend towards Spirit, and Spirit was meant, through involution, to descend into humanity. In The Life Divine (1990), Aurobindo wrote:
If there is such a Divinity, Self or Reality, it must be everywhere, one and indivisible, nothing can possibly exist apart from its existence…Our reason tells us, our intuitive consciousness feels, and their witness is confirmed by spiritual experience, that the one pure and absolute Existence exists in all things and beings even as all things and beings exist in It and by It, and nothing can be or happen without this indwelling and all supporting Presence (pp. 397-398).
Furthermore, Aurobindo pursues the point that the Divine, since it is everywhere, is also in man as a partially concealed spirit and that, through spiritual disciplines, one is able to break through to a greater awareness of this more authentic Self, which is not independent of the superficial ego we present to the world in our daily lives (Winston, 1994, p. 17). And he goes on to state, “The obstacle to the achievement of the aims of this spiritual discipline is not the material limitations of the natural world. It is the failure to seek the inner self that is already a higher consciousness” (Aurobindo, 1950, p. 268).
In Aurobindo’s integral view, there was a place for both spirituality and materialism, for both the mystical and analytical. He knew it would be an important advance if he could discover the means to connect the personal religious experience with the modern world’s larger but inherently non-religious analytical rationality. He was able to do so by placing them within a continuum, arguing that within this continuum, we progress from partial truth to a more complete truth; this process does not place differences in irreconcilable contradiction but in a larger conceptual context. (Winston, 1994, p. 14).
Aurobindo’s work has inspired others to pick up the mantle of the integral philosophy. Ken Wilber has probably emerged as the most eloquent of the contemporary torchbearers, and in his writings he covers a broad range of topics that he ties together within the context of an integral philosophy. Furthermore, he has developed an integral view that he calls “all quadrant, all level.”
Wilber divides the entire universe, what he calls the Kosmos (in ancient times, Kosmos referred to the master patterns of all things – the very architecture of cosmic reality [www.ikosmos.com]), into four quadrants: left upper, left lower, right upper and right lower. The left represents the inner directed/subjective; the right, the outer directed/objective. Left and right upper represent the individual; left and right lower the collective. He further shorthands it to read: I, (left upper), We (left lower), and It (right upper and lower); or self (the interior life of the individual), culture (the interior life of the collective), and nature (the surface and exteriors of all things and beings). And, Wilber emphatically proclaims, Spirit manifests in all four of the quadrants, throughout self, culture, and nature.
The levels that Wilber writes of are the continuum that we traverse along the spectrum of consciousness. This is an important point in regards to integral thinking. Even though, within integral thought, all perspectives interrelate and no perspective is final, we still need a hierarchy, a way to distinguish between qualities of concepts, and to be able to put all of these concepts within a greater context. If we don’t distinguish, we could fall prey to “aperspectival madness” – the belief that no belief is any better than any other (Wilber, 2000b, p. 170).
The levels are the graded steps along the climb to realms of higher consciousness. The levels evolve from a pre-personal/pre-rational perspective; to a personal/rational perspective; and, ultimately, to a transpersonal/transrational perspective. Wisdom traditions have traditionally called these levels the Great Chain of Being, and have classified the levels as going from matter, to body, to mind, to soul, to spirit.
We all evolve along this hierarchy of consciousness; and because these levels exist in each of the four quadrants, our evolution takes place not only as a personal journey, but also within the context of culture, and nature.
Ken Wilber is not the only person to elucidate this. Numerous philosophers, spiritual teachers, wisdom traditions, developmental psychologists and social scientists have done so also. On pages 197-217 of the book Integral Psychology (2000b), Wilber presents charts that give correlating developmental models amongst various theorists.
All told, the charts present a strong case for the evolutionary model of consciousness; all the authors agree that over time we progress from an egocentric consciousness towards a more worldcentric consciousness. And, ultimately, as we progress further up the chain, we realize even higher realms of consciousness, allowing for an evolution in thinking from a worldcentric perspective to a theocentric one. At this point, the more spiritual and mystical levels of consciousness can be accessed, leading to an awareness and embrace of the Divine.
In order to integrate successfully the higher levels, we need to experience, learn about, and integrate the lesser ones. If a person tries to jump from a pre-personal, egocentric level to Spirit, without taking the necessary steps in-between, what occurs is a type of thinking that believes the Universe exists to take care of me. A person needs to gain a maturity of ego states before they are ready to journey to trans-ego states, otherwise their version of spiritual states will be flavored by egocentrism.
The same goes for rational thinking. If you leap from a pre-rational way of thinking to Spirit without going through the necessary in-between steps of exploring rational thinking and behavior, you would have no clear idea of how to differentiate pre-rational from transrational.
This is what is known as the pre/trans fallacy: to some, rational thinking is considered “bad,” and anything not rational is considered “good.” The problem with this is that some non-rational states are very chaotic, and purely the acting out of impulses, while other non-rational states are truly transrational, and are profound spiritual experiences. But for those who haven’t become mature in their thinking, they clump all the non-rational experiences together as “good,” solely because they are not rational.
The flip side of all this is that those who are predominantly rationalists tend to dismiss anything non-rational – mainly because they look at the pre-rational behavior as quite immature. Unfortunately, this leads them to also dismiss the transrationalists, because they, too, are not doing things in the conventional manner.
The same occurs in the field of medicine and healing. Rational thinkers -biomedicine practitioners and their supporters – look at the entire field of healing and tend to dismiss anything that is not within their paradigm. They may have a valid case to dismiss some things, but there are other approaches that cannot be so categorically discharged. They do not understand there is a graded continuum in medicine, just as there is a graded continuum in all aspects of life.
Using the integral view, we can understand how all aspects of life are interconnected; just the same, we can put one specific discipline under the microscope of an integral vision to understand its own inherent integralism.
If we apply the integral view to medicine, we can understand that the field of healing applies to the individual, the community, and society. And we can also understand that there are different levels of healing, that the causes of illness and the pathways to healing include multi-dimensions: the physical, energetic, mental, soulful, and spiritual. Biomedicine, on the other hand, subscribes to the belief that all illness has a physical cause, and the sole treatment method is a physical approach (generally pharmaceuticals and surgery).
Nowadays, there has been such a vast amount of research in the field of mind-body medicine, that one would have to ignore extremely credible and persuasive data to maintain the belief that the only cause and cure of illness exists in the physical realm. The evidence has overwhelmingly validated the fact that illness occurs on a multi-dimensional basis – the fields of psychoneuroimmunology and psychoendoimmunology have demonstrated the relationship between the physical body, the emotions, the nervous system, the hormonal system, and the immune system – and is best dealt with in a multi-dimensional, multi-modal, way. This multi-modal way would encompass the various levels: the physical, the energetic, the mental-emotional, the soulful, and the spiritual.
Examples of modalities would be:
An integral viewpoint would also tell us that because a person is also a member of a community, and a member of a society, the healing does not just end with the individual – often part of the illness is the interrelationship between the person and their community and/or society. Thus, not only should we be interested in healing the individual, we should be interested in transforming the individual’s consciousness to help them in understanding their place in the world better, and in so doing, expand their vision in order to express their place better. And if we continue with this long view, if we help to transform the individual and their vision, the individual can aid in transforming society.
I am currently working out the details for a type of integral medicine that I call Quantum-Integral Medicine. In creating this, I have married two great strands of thought: quantum and integral theory.
Quantum theory has revolutionized our view of matter, showing that matter, at its core, is empty space, and this empty space, called the quantum vacuum, is teeming with energy (Matthews, Feb. 25, 1995, p. 30). This energy spreads out as infinite waves of possibilities across the entire universe. At some point, the waves experience a discontinuous collapse and settle into one state, the seemingly steady state of dense matter. Even in this steady state, matter continually moves turbulently and non-linearly; some would say that even in density, matter is still attempting to mirror the movements it makes in the quantum realm.
No one can presently dispute quantum realities; where the division lies now is whether quantum realities continue after the discontinuous collapse. Some argue that once we enter our everyday world, quantum laws cease (Stenger, Jan./Feb. 1997, p. 38). People who reside in this camp tend to be scientific materialists, and negate the possibilities of uncertainty and unpredictability in our world. Others, like myself, believe that quantum realities continue to exist in our world – these are seen in the non-linear movements of matter, as I mentioned above. Complexity theorists would tell us that these non-linear movements, what they call chaotic movements, have an inherent order to them: they are creating order out of chaos. Complexity theorists would even define entropy not as the dissolution of systems, but as the evolution of systems into a new order (Gleick, 1987).
The scientists who developed quantum theory discovered early on that these infinite waves of possibilities move discontinuously throughout the universe. Light was found to be one of these discontinuous waves; the movement of electrons was another. And because they moved discontinuously, one could never known with certainty where exactly they were or how fast they moved (Goswami, 1993).
Researchers studying quantum consciousness have found that the mind is also a quantum field, and that the beginnings of normal consciousness occur due to a discontinuous movement, or more specifically, a discontinuous collapse, of this quantum field (Hameroff and Penrose, in Hameroff, Kaszniak, and Scott, 1996). This has led to theories of quantum thinking (Zohar, 1997): the discontinuities that occur in our mind, creating consciousness, allow us, at a subconscious level, to have an innate, infinite arsenal of knowledge, virtually the infinite wisdom of the universe, within our grasp – if only the tools existed to tap into it. One theorist, the physicist Amit Goswami, calls these tools quantum creativity (Goswami, 1999).
Quantum creativity is a way to tap into the depths of the soul, and by so doing, tapping into the depths of the universe. It tries to encourage the mind to experience discontinuities; the desired outcome is an expansion in the level of a person’s awareness.
Creating creative works is not the primary preferred end result with quantum creativity; expanding awareness and a person’s scope of vision is.
The integral view tells us that all perspectives interrelate; that they emanate from One Source; that this Source exists in both the inner-directed and outer-directed worlds; and that there is a graded spectrum, a hierarchy, that needs to be traversed in order to fully access and understand this Source.
The quantum view tells us that all life emanates as infinite possibility waves from a great void, and is all-pervasive throughout the universe; that even in our everyday world there is a silent pulse that connects ordinary reality with this quantum reality; and that through quantum creativity, we can connect the two worlds.
Thus, the quantum-integral approach would blend the scientific and spiritual, and show that at its core, life is composed of infinite waves of possibilities that collapse into our everyday world. In our everyday world, we attempt to communicate with and are informed by these infinite waves; ultimately, we have an unconscious drive to find our way back to this Source, through the levels that constitute the spectrum of consciousness. And as we traverse higher up the spectrum, the unconscious drive becomes a conscious one.
Since our journey back to the Source is a multi-modal one – traveling from pre-personal to personal to transpersonal; or egocentric, to ethnocentric, to sociocentric, to worldcentric, to theocentric; or from matter, to body, to mind, to soul, to spirit – the tools that we need should also be multi-modal. And, at its core, these multi-modal tools should have approaches that aid a person to access their inherent quantum creative ability.
Whether a person is using the tools for self-development, or for healing ailments, the tools of quantum creativity are essential. Too many people are locked into mental models that stop them from accessing their unlimited potential, or their potential for self-healing.
In my practice of Chinese medicine over the years, I have encountered untold times people who can’t, or won’t, make a change in their life that could positively impact their health. These encounters have run the gamut from people with cancer who wouldn’t change their diet from a heavily meat-based one, to one high in complex carbohydrates and low in saturated fat; to people who wouldn’t get acupuncture for their ailments because their doctor didn’t believe in acupuncture; to people who were so psychologically bound up, yet refused to get any sort of psychotherapy; to many other cases. All of these, over many years, led me to ponder if some people are just incapable of changing, or if it was just their fate to stay within their patterns, or if it was perhaps their karma that kept them stuck in their own shortsightedness.
Now, I believe differently. I believe people aren’t aware of the tools for change. To access these tools, we need a broad approach, a multi-modal approach. This is why I have put forth my theory of Quantum-Integral Medicine, as one such approach.
And as I said earlier, if we are to help a person heal, then we are also helping the person to transform – transform their perspective on life, their personal and social vision, their relationship with others. And if we can transform the individual vision, the individual can then transform society.
We can actually say that the process of transforming the individual who then transforms society is an inner-directed transformation. We can also extrapolate and say that we can use the same quantum-integral techniques to enact an outer-directed transformation of society. And if we transform society, society can then transform the individual. It is possible to go both ways, for inner to affect outer, and outer to affect inner.
This is the integral view. Or, more correctly, the quantum-integral view: of healing self, transforming self, and transforming society.
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www.ikosmos.com. A website dedicated to an integral vision, an integral spirituality, and an integral culture
Zohar, Danah (1997). Rewiring the Corporate Brain. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.