“What is ‘Integral’? It means simply more complete, balanced, comprehensive and connected. Using the Integral Approach, in business, in personal development, art, education, or spirituality (or in any other numerous areas), we may include more aspects of reality and of our own humanity, to become more completely and efficiently conscious in all we do.”
– Ken Wilber -
In short, the integral approach is the coherent organisation, coordination and harmonisation of all practices, methodologies and experiences available to humans. Ken Wilber says: ”we cannot [realistically] honour the various methods and fields without exposing as they fit together. This is the way to treat in a genuine way the philosophic world".
The integral and dynamic approach to the Enneagram support awareness and transformation awakening and involving emotional intelligence, intuition and instinctive intelligence. Particularly, specific practices of bodywork and somatic movement reveal the connection between our posture and our inner states opening the access towards higher states of consciousness. Inner inquiry and practice of presence create the ground allowing new comprehensions and our natural essential qualities to reveal. One of the more interesting application of this approach is the discover of our inner connections and their active exploration.
The multiple aspects of reality
The integral approach consider as fundamental the awareness of the multiple dimensions of reality. Idries Shah affirmed that a man is really free only when he has the choice of the dimension of the reality he’s giving attention to, instead than being trapped in the sole one he is capable to recognise.
Gurdjieff attributed great importance to the integration of three intelligence centers mental, emotional and instinctive and to their dynamic involvement in the evolutionary process.
The orientation of this approach is to move the sense of ourselves and our identity from reactivity to our true nature. Integrating the empirical knowing of our differentiated inner aspects and of the many dimensions of reality, our daily life may also express and manifest all the variety of true nature.
Psychology supplies a fundamental body of knowledge about the formation of the character and its being functional and dysfunctional. Psychotherapy supplies the tools to attenuate the imbalances and living a more efficient life. Both have the purpose to help human beings to become more functional and better introduced in society and they are both focused on the cognitive experience Cognitive understanding is a fundamental moment in the process of expansion of consciousness, but not enough towards the full expression of ourselves. Both have the limit of not being able to manage the reality of an expanded consciousness and of the spiritual dimension in the life journey.
From the spiritual perspective, even a well socially adapted person may keep to perceive his character as the final reality and may keep being identified with it remaining unconscious of his being.
Often, also the systems of knowledge are used just as tools for better managing the details of daily life, forgetting that they invite us to transcend the collection of mental, emotional and behavioural patterns shaped by our personal story.
I think that confusion and difficulties to change rise when not all of the facets of reality are recognised and accepted, and when the situation is not identified in the appropriate context.
The moments of radical inner transformation are alchemical moments of integration. They happen when the experience is ‘integral’ and ‘integrated’, not partial or fragmentary as the automatic way we interpret the events.
From this perspective, the automatic aspects of personality operating are considered and a guide towards our natural talents and abilities. If we want to investigate reality, relative or absolute, it is necessary to include that integral and dynamic human consciousness revealing itself in all the dimensions we can experiment or preceding the experimental and interpretable.
In this process, intention, direction and support are fundamental. It is necessary that attitude and practices are congruent with the quality of our true nature. When practices and attitude are informed by ours patterns and beliefs, they will carry us to a deeper entangling in that structure.
Evolution requires the existential being – ego – and the essential being - conscience - be aligned.
Practices opening to bigger prospective than the habitual one allows us to recognise ourselves beyond inner conflicts and to discover a larger, deeper and serene sense of identity.
We then begun to unlearn, to discard all what we believed about ourselves, and if God wants, to remember who we are.
The four quadrants model is probably the Wilber’s more celebrated vision. He suggests that almost everything can be observed using four intrinsic: the individual interior and exterior perspectives and the interior and exterior perspectives of the collective.
Another nuclear vision for which Wilber has become well known is recognition that human development, individually, and up to a certain point also culturally, passes through specific levels or stages of consciousness. For example, there are cognitive stages, moral stages, cultural stages, spiritual stages, the stages of the Spiral Dynamics model and many others. Taken as a whole, they have a powerful message to the integral mind.
These two concepts, quadrants and levels, are the foundations of Wilber integral model, or approach, called "all quadrants, all levels" (AQAL). They represent the fundamental structure of its "theory of everything" and the basis of his philosophy called “integral operating system". AQAL has now been extended to refer to a perspective that includes all quadrants, all levels, all lines (of development), all states (of consciousness) and all kinds (of awareness).
In this model built by Wilber and Comb there are 4 categories of states of consciousness at the top and 7 levels or stages of awareness. The key point shown by this image is that all we can experience all states of consciousness and the way we interpret them depends on our stage of awareness. While we can all have experience of non-dual reality the we will evaluate according to our level, not we all can know all the stages. While it is possible to pass from one state to another, we cannot jump levels in our evolution.