About Integral Development and Integral Evolutionary

About this site

This site is intended to be a resource for integral development and evolutionary spirituality community in the Philadelphia area, along with my very personal and intimate research and reviews of the movement.

What is integral development?

Integral development (which is related to integral philosophy, integral spirituality and evolutionary spirituality) is a collection of teachings that present a new model for how human beings develop, and a set of practices to facilitate that.  Integral philosophy was popularized by Ken Wilber (who is still its leading figure) and draws in part on Don Beck’s and Chris Cowan’s Spiral dynamics.  Evolutionary Spirituality (related to Evolutionary Enlightenment) was popularized by Andrew Cohen (see below) but draws from Sri Aurobindo, Teilhard de Chardin, and others.

There are many schools of integral development, who don’t all agree with each other; however, they all share the belief that human beings in the 21st century do not develop alone, or in direct relation to only the Absolute, as in previous traditions of spiritual development; rather, they need to come together and share their process within a certain container, out of which something much richer and more powerful emerges than any individual could create.  In some schools, this coming together of group consciousness is, for all practical purposes, the “mind of God”.

Some of the leading teachers and schools of integral development and integral philosophy are:

Note a strong group (including Mike Jay and Brian Robertson) who are creating business development models that use integral philosophy and evolutionary spirituality concepts.

Why I created this site

There has been an explosion of interest in integral development in the last few years.  New schools are growing and developing at a rapid clip, and some of the “old” schools are quite controversial (there are no “old” schools, just older schools).  My goal is to bring together all the information that I have researched (and continue to research) about integral development, with the objective of furthering my own and other’s development through this maze.  There are lots of books, audios, groups and seminars, and it’s hard to figure out what is actionable, what works, what is an authentic spiritual path, and how this compares to other more traditional spiritual and religious paths both Eastern (i.e. Buddhism) and Western (i.e. psychotherapy, Landmark Education, etc). I hope to answer some of these questions in this blog – at least for me, the goal being to examine each practice (to “bring it down to earth”) in terms of its effectiveness in accelerating human development, reducing suffering, saving the planet, and fulfilling fundamental human needs.  I have reduced my own human needs to three significant groups:

  1. I want to figure out how to make a living in a way that inspires me
  2. I want to be happy — which for me involves learning to get along with other people and especially the opposite sex (don’t laugh — it’s not that easy)
  3. I want to make a contribution to other people and to the culture

And I am really only interested in philosophies and practices that can fulfill these needs.  I have no interest in models of consciousness that do not have practical consequences (which indeed is one of the fundamental premises of evolutionary spirituality, that spiritual development has little meaning if it’s not connection to our work-in-the-world).

My Story

I first came across the ideas of integral development through spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen and EnlightenNext.  I fell madly in love with these ideas, which I wrote about in the article What is Evolutionary Spirituality.  After a brief time, however, I found allegations of serious integrity breaches and personality problems in Andrew’s Cohen’s teachings, which I resolved, after a rather lengthy investigation, to be true.  I gave up on EnlightenNext (not without considerable grief), but continued my research, connecting shortly with Saniel Bonder and Waking Down in Mutuality.  This was a very significant experience and it fulfilled my search for a path with integrity, with heart, and which was reported to be extremely rapid in achieving “awakening”.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t terribly clear what “awakening” meant or what practical consequences it would have (Saniel tried to explain to me, perhaps I am slow), and the above-mentioned problems still remained (and, in fact, I started behaving a bit bizarrely and “irresponsibly” even to myself, as told in my personal blog). Finally, a full year after I started this quest for information and enlightenment through evolutionary spirituality,  I started realizing the breadth and depth of organizations doing integral development work (such as Craig Hamilton and the Great Spiritual Awakening project), and so I took up my quest again with more heart.  In the summer of 2010 I also began a deep engagement with Mike Jay and the Flawless Living Network, which is where I stand today.

Check out the links on the right under “Philadelphia Community” — I frequently attend events there.

If you wish to contribute to the blog, or give me any advice in my search for a down-to-earth, actionable and effective spiritual path, I hope you will comment on some of the article, write to me, or friend me (see the right side-bar).

Peace,

Marc