Integral insight into politics & culture

Author: Brett Walker

The practice of mutual awakening: a conversation with Patricia Albere

Years ago, a love relationship changed the course of Patricia Albere’s life. “We entered into a very intensive awakening that we shared…and together we were being purified and processed by whatever this thing was.” The Sufis refer to it, she says, as red sulfur, an intense awakening that can’t be stopped. “It’s like an orgasm that just keep going and going.” Peter, her lover, died suddenly in a car accident, but Patricia was forever changed and her curiosity about this experience of mutual awakening has just kept growing. Can it be practiced with groups? Can it be cultivated? Yes,...

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Sanders’ amazing race • Policing Trump-speak • An unlikely source of Muslim rage

Jeff begins this episode with a heartfelt reminder of just how valuable integral theory is for opening our hearts and understanding our world. It helps us to see and accommodate more of reality, to make sense of competing worldviews and conflicting truth claims. “All schools of human wisdom find their place in the bigger integral view,” he says. Jeff invited special guest Theo Horesh on to the show to talk about candidate Bernie Sanders and the progressive movement he’s leading. Theo is an integrally-informed author and thought leader who’s been a political activist since the days of Ralph Nader...

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Trump versus Clinton: the roller derby begins

Jeff begins the podcast by playing an excerpt from a commencement speech given by President Obama at Howard University recently, which has a distinctly integral feeling to it. Before challenging the graduates, Obama puts their place in history in context: “If you had to choose one moment in history in which you could be born, and you didn’t know ahead of time who you were going to be … What nationality, what gender, what race, whether you’d be rich or poor, gay or straight, what faith you’d be born into … You wouldn’t choose 100 years ago. You wouldn’t...

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Insect consciousness • Saving the elephants • The Witch: movie review • Plus, Trump’s the one!

As humans evolve we are able to empathize with more and more life forms, beginning with other people and eventually extending to other species that may be very different from us–from elephants to insects. Officially as of this week we can now add insects to the mix of living creatures that are conscious. –Jeff Salzman Jeff talks about new research into the interiors of tiny critters and explores the idea that consciousness is an irreducible aspect of reality. The Wilberian notion that consciousness extends all the way up and all the way down, from humans to atoms, is rich...

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“I, my brother and my cousin against the stranger.” The soul of Saudi Arabia. Plus Bence Ganti on IEC 2016

In this week’s Daily Evolver live Jeff takes an in-depth look at the beautiful and mysterious desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which he refers to as “our Arab frenemy”. President Obama spent several days there last week—his 4th visit, more than any sitting president. Saudi Arabia has officially been an ally to the US since 1933. They’re our biggest customer in terms of arms sales, and we rely heavily on their oil. And yet, recent legislation would provide U.S. citizens with recourse to sue Saudi Arabia for culpability in the September 11 attacks (Obama says he’ll veto it). There...

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Jeff speaks with Bence Ganti about “Reinventing Europe”, IEC 2016

In this short episode, Jeff speaks with Bence Ganti about the 2nd Integral European Conference taking place in Hungary next week, at beautiful Lake Balaton. Bence explains the multiple wisdom streams converging at this event: Wilberian integral theory, Don Beck’s Spiral Dynamics, the Teal movement inspired by Frederick Laloux, circling practitioners, and Stan Grof’s transpersonal psychology. As the refugee crisis continues, it’s a particularly poignant time to think about what it means to be a European. Bence and Jeff talk about how integral theory can help illuminate, and maybe even ameliorate, the humanitarian crisis engulfing the continent. Tickets are...

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First tier food fight: Red Trump to Green Sanders

Jeff often talks about how politics offers us opportunities to do integral practice, because politics has a lot of juice. “It really reaches down to our lower strata of development, down to our power and security chakras, which determine how we see the world,” he says. Interestingly, and perhaps for the first time ever, we have presidential candidates whose developmental centers-of-gravity span four entire stages of development. Hence, they each speak to different parts of ourselves. Trump, for instance, has classic Red (warrior) tendencies. Red is chaotic, unpredictable, and often sees the world as divided into predator and prey,...

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Can integral theory solve climate change and save democracy? A conversation with Alan Watkins

In “Wicked and Wise”, Alan and Ken use climate change as an example of a wicked problem. “Integral coherence”, or applying the integral map in a coherent fashion, is the essence of the solution. In the podcast, Jeff and Alan discuss climate change, the problems of globalization and democracy, getting CEO’s to do the right thing, and even Donald Trump!

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The Mormon faith crisis: can integral thinking help? A conversation with author Thomas McConkie

Activity in the Mormon church seems to be declining – particularly in the West – and Thomas McConkie is witnessing what he calls a “faith crisis.” Many people are questioning the stories being passed down to them, especially Millennials, who are effortlessly modern or even postmodern. Gold plates with Egyptian writing on them? Lost tribes of Israel in the Americas? Where is the proof? (And what about the sexism, racism and homophobia?) Thomas, who was born and raised in the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City and comes from pioneer ancestors, left the church at thirteen. This was unprecedented...

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Dr. Keith Witt on how to regulate anxiety

anx·i·e·ty (aNGˈzīədē/) noun 1. A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.   T he ability to remember the past and to imagine the future sets us apart from other animals. A zebra doesn’t worry about the lion until the lion is upon it, at which time it reacts. If it escapes it will shake for hours afterwards to release the trauma, and then it’s free. But humans have the special ability to imagine that lion attacking over and over again. It must give us some kind of evolutionary advantage or else we wouldn’t have developed this ability. Anxiety is part of the price we pay for our imaginations, and a self-aware consciousness. This subject is close to Jeff’s heart. He describes a four-year period in which he suffered debilitating anxiety as “a black hole of self-focused rumination”. He tells Dr. Keith about the medications, the treatments, screaming his head off, and what finally drew him out of that terrible place. If you’re in a society whose goal is zero anxiety, then you’re always sick. You need to have an anxiety architecture that you apply to have just the right amount of anxiety to optimize your performance. –Dr. Keith Witt Chögyam Trungpa used to say that anxiety is just the feeling of being a separate self. Research has shown that...

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Steve McIntosh on polarity theory and a path forward in US politics, (plus Donald Trump!)

In this conversation, Steve talks to Jeff about the new paper he released through The Institute for Cultural Evolution, titled Overcoming Polarization by Evolving Both Right and Left: How Polarity Theory Provides a Path to Political Progress. Looking at the current political climate in America, Steve writes, “Polarization now extends far beyond the uncompromising logjam in the legislature. Numerous studies have shown that much of the American public is afflicted by ‘affective polarization’ wherein opposing political camps increasingly dislike, and even loathe, their opponents.” …the Republican party has entered the throes of a historically significant meltdown which may actually...

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Validation for Einstein; Funeral for Scalia. Plus, America’s gun-love

Ripples in the fabric of space/time Einstein’s general theory of relativity got its final proof this month as scientists detected the bending of space and time that he predicted one hundred years ago. The world that Einstein showed us is so much stranger than what we could have imagined. It blew up our safe perceptions about time and space and light and gravity. But the mechanistic universe we inhabited until then wasn’t wrong, it was just partial. General relativity includes and transcends Newtonian physics. So what effect does a four-dimensional reality, one that is interpenetrated with time, have on...

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Integral political practice: How to endure Ted Cruz. Plus, the Mormon faith crisis

There are good reasons why, traditionally, politics and religion are not discussed in polite company. “It’s because they express very deep patterns of our thinking and feeling,” Jeff says, “if you start screwing with my spiritual beliefs and my politics, you’re screwing with me and my whole sense of identity.” In the podcast, Jeff talks about what he calls “integral political practice,” the act of observing our attractions and aversions to different political ideas and even to particular candidates. In so doing we are engaging in the most potent practice of consciousness evolution: turning subject into object. He describes...

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Integral sex therapy with Dr. Keith Witt

In a healthy intimate relationship, the partners don’t have to be turned on by each other all the time, says Dr. Keith, “but they do need to be turned on by each other regularly.” Every couple has a balance of how much sex is needed to keep things vibrant, and it’s the responsibility of each partner to make it happen. For many couples, this is something that must be learned and practiced. In the days of our grandparents there wasn’t much need for sex therapy. Sexual fulfillment was not an expectation for a traditional marriage. The dawn of modernity (orange) brought with it a value structure that focused more on the individual. With changing morals and the advent of birth control, the focus of sex became less about procreation and more about pleasure. Our personal sexual fulfillment took priority over social convention, and divorce began to skyrocket. The capacity to give and receive positive influence from each other is one of the most robust predictors of happy relationships. ~Dr. Keith Witt With the dawn of the postmodern age, couples are faced with additional challenges. The main challenge is how to keep the erotic energy alive when partners are focused on minimizing male/female differences and elevating equality. “These couples need to practice taking and being taken,” says Dr. Keith, “where one person’s masculine really focuses on the other person’s feminine....

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Political correctness and the evolution of culture

There is political correctness, it turns out, at every stage of development, from the capitol crime of blasphemy at the traditional/amber stage to the prejudices and microaggressions you may not even know you’ve inflicted at the postmodern/green stage. Jeff shows how they are pushing humanity into new, ever more humane and compassionate territory. Also, Obama’s last State of the Union address.

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From midlife crisis to a deeper sense of self, with Dr. Keith Witt

The popular picture of the midlife crisis is the man in his 40’s or 50’s who’s lost his job, his wife or his health. He’s dyed his hair, bought a Porsche and is dating a much younger woman. We feel sorry for him, maybe in the same way we would feel sorry for an active alcoholic, a mentally ill person or anyone who is out of touch with reality. Losing your job or your partner, having major health issues or just the general feeling of existential ennui can be terrible and even traumatic, but they are not necessarily unique...

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How to stay engaged in politics from a place of love

Jeff talks to Alex Howard about the importance of engaging in political issues and how we can support the world in becoming a better place. 2:45 Making friends with reality 4:20 Humanity is moving forward 6:20 Disengagement and vested interests 9:15 All stages of development are appropriate 10:40 Conflict is the engine of moving forward, we become radically friendly to that process 11:45 Fighting and failing forward 13:40 Polarities integrate into a new thing 15:20 People feel righteous in their tribes. Integral has to be friendly to all of them 17:00 The polarization of migration 18:10 God wants us...

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Evolutionary spirituality’s emerging method for evolving consciousness, by Steve McIntosh

In the six minute clip below, Steve explains how evolutionary spirituality lends itself to a method, an approach that can evolve consciousness. Recorded at the Integral Center in Boulder, Colorado, in October 2015, the talk presents Steve’s latest book The Presence of the Infinite, and has now been presented in multiple cities across the U.S. Through the practice of evolutionary spirituality we become direct participants in evolution’s unfolding—the process by which something more keeps coming from something less—as we work to increasingly perfect ourselves and our world. ~Steve McIntosh To see a video of the full 1.5 hour presentation...

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Terror and backlash in America: The San Bernardino attack and its effect on US politics

In a world in which there are no mess-free options, says Jeff, “I’m so happy to have an evolutionary view” when trying to make sense of things like the killings in San Bernardino, the first terror attack on American soil with the fingerprints of ISIS. While it’s objectively true that violent deaths in the U.S. (and the world) are declining steadily, public shootings have become horrifyingly common here (26 mass shootings just during Obama’s two terms in office). These create a special kind of anxiety and terror, one that we are evolutionarily programmed to pay outsized attention to. In...

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The holy war on modernity: An integral analysis of the Paris attacks

The recent terror attacks in Paris brought to light, once again, the difficulty in reconciling the values of modern, secular societies like France and premodern societies such as those in much of the Arab world.This relationship is complicated by the past sins of the West, from the Crusades all the way up to the wars after 9/11, which, Jeff explains, “took the lid off Iraq, which has put the Muslim world in arrested development and even in a functional regression since”. It may be tricky to claim the moral high ground when you’ve been alternately toppling and propping up...

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