Leadership on the Bleeding Edge of Humanity’s Evolution
All event photos courtesy Alyssa Morin, used by permission.[i]
Most challenges for Integrally-oriented leaders stem from working with people/situations primarily at First Tier consciousness. If you’re interested in the following entirely different kinds of leadership challenges, you would have loved the 2013 “Integral Living Room” event (and might love to be involved in the next one, May, 2014.)
Perhaps you’re interested in such challenges as:
- What does Integral Leadership look like when a group of diverse First and Second Tier folks are venturing into what is for all, new ways of relating?
- What are the functions of leadership when the “followers” are mostly at Integral and later stages of consciousness, of living?
- How could we design structures which will facilitate emergent structures?
- What does leadership look like when leadership personnel, self-selected, function in, as, and from a collective higher-consciousness, for the purpose of encouraging the same in their “followers?”
- What does Integral Leadership look like on the chaotic, very uncomfortable, exhilarating, edge of a kind of group intention which has not previously existed and in which no one knows who is going to become whom, and a kind of group in which landmines of polarity and conflict are deliberately set, as opportunities for growth and exploration — or which can explode and still be regarded as opportunities?
- How does a diverse group lead a diverse group into territory no one knows the characteristics of?
- How do the very parsable functions of leadership get redefined and re-aligned when people are moving into and settling into new higher-consciousness ways of relating in every aspect of life, an uncomfortable process sometimes? And are there any patterns around this transition in the nature of leadership from previous stage-jumps which could be used in the tier-jump move from Green to Integral (and later-stage) leadership?
- What can be learned to prepare for and move into mastery, when leadership naturally starts to include co-creating a “space” in which leadership is experienced by everyone as from a transpersonal source paradoxically operating through and as each person’s unique self?
Figure 1: Leadership notes display for us all captured by Rebecca Ejo Colwell
The Larger Evolutionary/Global Context and Integral Leadership Significance of this Event
Humanity’s First Tier-Jump is Happening
Evolutionary changes going on in humanity provide a wind in our sails for the growth we are exploring. In his talk at ILR, Ken Wilber said, “Emergence is living us, so we can trust this meta-process of emergence and evolution, even in this event as we experiment and invent our way.”
He pointed out that there has never been a Tier change in humanity before! The Kosmic ontological Form/structure of Second Tier Integral world is growing. Morphic field develops and is stored in Kosmos, the “real universe,” not in DNA, and governs form and growth, with a purpose, intention, agency, and teleology of its own. It’s a realm. Such Forms exist for psychological stages, too. At some point, each spills out, reaches down, and governs the sensory-motor world. We are perilously close to a sensory-motor level manifestation of Integral. Interior progress but already some sensory-motor worldspace manifestation is extraordinary. (More about this growth below.)
He said the Renaissance had 1000 people as “early adopters. Interior objects began to grow. Progress can appear sluggish, but interiors are being built, adds to the Form, it grows. Second Tier will be staggering, all-embracing, no oppression.
Most people who are at Integral stage don’t know what they are. Five per cent or 1 in 2000 is at Turquoise now. They are lonely. Less than 1/10 of 1% is now Third Tier.
One Manifestation is a Worldwide Interest in We-Space/Collective Intelligence…
as reflected in the Resources list at the end of this article and any Internet search for related terms. Interest in this phenomenon-capacity is popping up all over the world, even for individuals who think it is “just me.” Why this interest? Many people are recognizing that humanity’s problems are too large and complex to be solved even by groups of intelligent wise people. There is a phenomenon being experienced and a capacity which is emerging for a transpersonal collective intelligence which seems to be our best hope. Many of us are drawn to foster that leading edge of humanity’s consciousness-capacity; my ministry/devotion to it is one reason I was willing to write this Notes.
The Integral Living Room 2013 is One Instance of that Interest
The Integral Living Room 2013 was one of the first (or THE first?) large, international events among these people to be both (to a significant extent) emergent-process-oriented/driven and also we-space/interpersonal-relating focused. The gathering is indicative of/part of a leading edge of the evolution of the “Integral Movement” – which in turn is simply one instance of the evolution of the leading edge of humanity’s capacity of consciousness, toward higher-state collective consciousness – and intended to further advance that edge.
This event as an exploration into the “what is?” and “how to?” and even “why?” of Integral/Second-Tier interpersonal relating and “we-space” was of extraordinary daring, imagination, and value. Significantly – and portending well for the world – it is part of a growing number of gatherings and explorations of this leading edge among Integrally-informed folks. (We might say this is the “next step” for Integrally-interested folks whose previous collective leading edge might have been the desire to establish “community” and even “movement.” This leading edge is a development beyond that, in depth, in intensity, and in scope.)
Whatever else we might say about the ILR, it is this historical context which is perhaps the most important thing which could be said about it. It would be completely ridiculous to imagine that this report or any other could begin to capture more than a small part of the event and its impact on us and the world. That said, I invite readers also passionate about this leading edge to engage with me as you read, and to “join the ongoing conversation” in ways described at the end of the article.
In the spirit of the gathering’s purposes, there might be some value in the “we” represented by the author of this Report addressing the question “What did The We learn, from this event?” If learning is ultimately changing “who we are” then “the perfume of who we are” is the aspect of this article which could have the deepest, most lasting effect on any reader and on the future. Can you smell it?
Integral Living Room 2013 as Second Tier Leadership Experiment
The ILR was an experiment in new forms of leadership, in and beyond Integral, and far beyond the usual contexts in which we imagine “Integral Leadership” is functioning.
- The co-creation of a process-oriented, unpredictable-unfolding event was leadership;
- The design involved kinds of leadership of group that none of the designers/hosts had done before in that way to that degree;
- The presentation/delivery of the event was a real-time experiment into new territory of group real-time evolution, for those people in that kind of event format.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand in “grokking” this Notes report is that the Integral Living Room was an event, not a conference, convention, school, workshop or program; it was an experiment within the larger community/movement of Integrally-interested people. It was designed and led for an experimental purpose, in an experimental format, and it unfolded unusually emergently as it was happening. As the website said (see below) it was designed to be an [action-] inquiry into embodiment and expression of inspiring insights into interconnectedness. Those characteristics form part of its larger significance for and uniqueness in the Integral Worldspace.
Given the wondrous experiences most of the participants were saying they were having, ILR 2013 was designed and led perfectly for them, and anyone whose experience was less satisfying in any way, could (and often did) find value in whatever practice emerged for them personally in dealing with whatever was arising in them. (Some, like me, attached to our expectations, were very active in/with such practices! Someone said to me: “My stuff came up. I didn’t expect that; I thought this was just going to be a place where we would come and have conversations.”)
First and foremost, or bottom line, this event was, in design, leadership, and experience, an expression of “We are developing new ways to be and to relate. We are willing to explore. And we are willing to be uncomfortable, to risk, to fail, to keep going. Because we must, not just because evolution won’t let us do otherwise, but also for the sake of the world we love and the world we are imagining and building together.”
If one leadership function is to invite people to get inside your new experimental car and drive into new places with you, this event was surely that. The territory of higher-consciousness we-spaces is seeing a few adventurous groups and leaders in new experimental cars, moving around (and into and out of it,) and that territory itself is evoking and shaping, new forms of leadership.
Not that there haven’t been scouts on the leadership portion of this leading edge of humanity’s evolution, for just two examples, (Presence-Centered Evolutionary Leadership and Causal Leadership as taught by Pacific Integral) but it’s a very large territory indeed, and only beginning to be explored..
As Ken said (in so many words) in his talk at ILR: “Welcome to your place in history. Someone has to be on the leading edge, and we are it.” Leading the leading edge. Bring your oxygen masks and put your own on first, as leader!
Figure 2: Jordan Myska Allen, a young leader, speaking to the whole group
Stated Context and Purpose of the Event[ii]
The Integral Living Room was co-designed (with a little help from some friends) and co-hosted by:
Diane Musho Hamilton Sensei, a gifted professional mediator, facilitator, and teacher of Zen and Integral Spirituality, working with Ken Wilber as a part of the Integral Institute since 2004. She co-founded Two Arrows Zen, a center for Integral and Zen practice in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband Michael Mugaku Zimmerman. In 2012 she co-founded Integral Facilitator, a developmental approach to group facilitation mastery. Her new book Everything is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution was on sale at the event fresh off the presses.
Jeff Salzman worked side by side with Ken Wilber for three years developing the Integral Institute, an international center for integral theory and application. Jeff spent the last few years as co-founder and a lead teacher at Boulder Integral (now The Integral Center). These days he travels, teaches and comments about current events on Integral Life and on his blog, The Daily Evolver.
Terry Patten has worked with Ken Wilber and I-I since 2004, and was the senior writer and co-author of the book Integral Life Practice. He created the acclaimed 8-session online course, Integral Spiritual Practice. He writes and teaches internationally, and hosts the acclaimed online teleseminar series Beyond Awakening: The Future of Spiritual Practice.
On the event website, they explain: “We’ve worked together for nearly ten years, leading many significant Integral events, including the Integral Institute Seminars of 2004–2007, the Integral Spiritual Experiences of 2009–2012, and the What Next Integral Conference held this last  New Year’s holiday. Recently we’ve asked ourselves, ‘What calls us next? What do we most want to offer the integral community that has become so precious to us? What would most make our hearts sing?’
And we realized what we most want to do is to re-create the best spirit of these events — the special ‘we-space’ of committed evolutionaries, but ‘rebooted’ for 2013 and beyond! We want to do it at an intimate, human scale, make it affordable, and make it alive. That’s why we’re opening up our very own Integral Living Room to YOU. It’s a gathering we not only want to lead, but attend and enjoy ourselves. It will be a chance to hang out with friends, old and new, in a space that lets us all go as deep and wide as our hearts and minds allow.
Jeff Salzman further describes the purpose in a post-event interview with Keith Witt. ILR was designed to “explore approaches to creating a higher-level interpersonal space among us.”
The Living Room was a sophisticated flex-flow workshop where we tried to hold a framework that was tight enough to give the gathering a structure, but loose enough that it could change as needed. We wanted information and influence to flow both ways, and for the we-space to tell us what it wanted to become. The entity created by the ‘we’ seems to have its own destiny. It’s a tricky thing to pull off but we had an amazing group of people present and they were up to the task!
The ILR website includes bios, a blog, extensive audios and videos (see below,) and promotional emails describing it as “Welcome to the Integral Living Room, for the best conversations of your life. Your hosts are … ” (And of course, prominently featuring that Ken Wilber would be there in person and answer questions!)
Figure 3: Integral Living Room website image
The website main page says “COME ON IN! Relax and join us for a weekend of fun, friends, and some of the best conversations of your life … What if the conversations and connections were the main event [of an Integral gathering]? What if the presentations and exercises were there to support YOU … and US … and ALL OF US in doing what we most enjoy doing, connecting deeply with, learning from, and sharing with one another? Seeing and being seen, listening and being heard, delving into the big questions and passions we all share – in a safe and inspiring space? … [This] would be so much more powerful if the people … shared an integral and evolutionary vision – if they were lit up with a sense of possibility for our world and a yearning for more beautiful, authentic ways of being. What could be more nourishing than the opportunity to connect with other integralists and evolutionaries in a space of vibrant ideas and passionate tenderness? In this ‘sweet spot,’ we could experience some of the most rewarding conversations and meaningful connections of our lives, while we blossom into our full intelligence and aliveness. The spirit behind the Integral Living Room … [is] a warm gathering of friends, gently facilitated to bring out the best of each of us … designed to be intimate, human scale, affordable, and ALIVE … the gathering will embrace the spirit of integral living, which manifests as a kind of inquiry: How can we embody and express the insights into interconnectedness (aka ‘Integral Theory’) that have inspired us so deeply?
“We’ll explore topics such as: How an evolutionary worldview helps us make sense of current events § Politics and religion – respectfully and enthusiastically engaging the two off-limit topics of ‘polite conversations’ § Shining a healing light on the shadow aspects of integral consciousness § The state of the integral movement, and how to nurture its health and growth § How to create a dialectic where you are willing to influence AND be influenced § ‘Keeping the conversation going’ – the secret to fruitful relationships § Going beyond polarization, toward mutual understanding
“In three high-energy days you’ll get to experience first-hand what it means to lead an integrally-informed life, with: New friends and contacts that will support your growth and lifelong development § The awakened brilliance of integral pandit extraordinaire Ken Wilber in person, engaging his ongoing philosophical investigation in direct dialog with us § Daily integral meditation and movement – aka ‘Integral Life Practice’ or ‘Integral Spiritual Practice’ § Nightly fun, games, music, and dancing § Open mic – (if you choose) to share your wisdom, observations, creativity, and/or challenges with the group
“Learning best practices to support deep dialogue & integral intimacy § Cultivating more positive and juicy relationships § Unleashing the power of conversation (and the two principles that ignite it) § Integral practices for a life of compassionate connection & authentic action in a chaotically-evolving world § … And exploring any other questions that are stirring your heart.
“Just as the academies of the 18th century catalyzed the modern Enlightenment … And the salons of Paris sparked the art and literature of postmodernism … Gatherings of evolutionaries have played a key role in coalescing the global integral movement. Sharing – indeed multiplying – new ideas with other integralists [“people who get us”] has seeded transformations in our lives, relationships, careers, and in the world at large. It’s like a shot of espresso for our souls! We return home with a renewed clarity, passion, and sense of purpose, inspired to more fully become the change we wish to see in the world.”
Figure 4: Integration in Movement
Background: Place, People, Preparation
Appropriate for a “Living Room,” The Integral Center in Boulder, Colorado, is a nonprofit organization, operating a former church building, focused on hosting or sponsoring events around “Integral.” The downstairs had been recently severely damaged in regional flooding; the Center staff scrambled to be ready without it. Donations can be sent to help renovations.
The “family-feeling” intimacy of the event was tremendously facilitated by: having our own kitchen and eating space with breakfast supplied, being the only thing going on in the small, contained space, and being in an Integrally-owned and -staffed place. All that was lovely, compared to a hotel. On the other hand, everyone’s lodging was off-site, so we lacked the casual off-hours gathering place, and commutes were non-trivial. There were spaces for semi-private conversations at the Center, but participants did not have personal space to retreat to.
Designed to be an “intimate” group of about 100 participants, because of “conversations” and the facility size, still the diversity was amazing. The under-30, over-50 (up into 70’s), and non-US (from 8 countries mostly Canada and Mexico) attendees received standing recognitions. Other diversities: people new to Integral, people there just to see Ken, some came just to be with like-minded folks, some were there for personal growth, some wondered after the event “What’s a we-space?” and some had decades of experience facilitating high-consciousness we-spaces or were otherwise well-known Integralists. Perhaps the most well-known (and obviously cherished) participant was Susanne Cook-Greuter, who asked to be treated as a “wise Elder” and not a conveyer of her famous work. About the people, Keith Witt observed in his post-ILR interview with Jeff Salzman (linked below): really deep people, incredible depth of skills from a variety of directions, tremendously sophisticated, high-frequency people.
The Preparation Resources
One of the wonderful uniquenesses of the Integral Living Room was the “conversation before-and-about the conversation.” Not only did Ken Wilber speak to us in person, he was also active in the design process, some of which was available beforehand in live calls and then recordings. There were other rich, thought-provoking calls and blog posts available before we convened; even beginning to do justice to all that richness is impossible in the space of this Report. I urge you, go to the main website and explore under The Conversation So Far and Blog top tabs.
Integral Living Room Activities
We started Thursday evening and ended Sunday noonish, which included an extra whole day compared to many weekend “conferences.” Reasons, implications, effects, unknown yet!
We began with an appropriate exercise, on Halloween evening, in the USA. We were asked to select and wear a (imaginatively pre-decorated) mask, if we had not brought one, and were given structured “mixer” opportunities to let our “secret alter-ego” speak in specified ways to others! That really sparked some unusual conversations/interactions and feelings!
Kinds of activities included:
- a rare in-person and (outbound) live-streamed (and currently downloadable video) talk by Ken Wilber, who also dialogued with Terry Patten and answered audience questions
- lots of small-group structured exercises, sometimes with whole-group followup
- a Saturday night dance party, preceded by beautiful, inspiring guitar-singing (and sing-along) by Philip Watson from Mexico
- morning meditation group and movement group, followed by onsite free and elaborate “continental breakfast” social time made possible by the hardworking event support team
- designated “nature” time
- whole-group structured exercises
- “panel” discussions among the three presenters, with questions from audience
- ongoing keyword-and-image notes made at the front of the room by Rebecca Colwell on large papers eventually covering the walls, often photographed by participants
Figure 6: One of many pages of dynamic notes on everything for us all by Rebecca Ejo Colwell
Kinds of activities not included:
Lectures, slide presentations, poster presentations, “panels” other than the presenters. Also it was a relief to me not having forced-choices among presentations to attend, as at Integral Theory Conference; here we were mostly all together even if in small groups in the large room.
Some of the emergent, self-generated activities (not pre-designed) included:
- The schedule of the activities got revised (at least once) as new needs/preferences of participants became articulated. I am not aware of how much this happened, aside from what is mentioned here, but I suspect a great deal of revising and adapting went on, based on feedback to the various hosts articulated in public and private.
- The Hosts’ discovery of the existence of, and then “official name and role” given to, “the Harvest Team.” This Team began simply as friends (Alia Aurami, Eric Troth, George Por) passionately conversing, prior to the event, toward the purpose of maximizing the benefit from the event to the evolution of Integral and of Collective Intelligence in the world. These conversations became structured and focused meetings when we arrived at the event. Three people with relevant expertise and passions were invited to participate: Anna Betz, Ben Levi, and Marilyn Hamilton. The Team studied The Art of Harvesting and The Essence of Harvesting, reflecting an area of George’s expertise. Someone from the event support team brought the group to the attention of the Hosts. There were several joint meetings; the “Harvest Team” was officially designated and presented to the participants, and its role evolved and morphed ongoingly during the event. We were meeting among ourselves like crazy, not knowing for sure what was expected or wanted of us by the Hosts, because that was ongoingly co-evolving, or what we wanted to do, or could manage to do. It was definitely a “practice.” The HT does not still officially exist, and various members continue the original conversation toward its purpose.
- While this Notes from the Field report is not an official product of the Harvest Team, it was written by one member of it.
- Marilyn Hamilton, author of the book and website Integral City, as part of the Harvest Team’s working with the Hosts, did an (unplanned, emergent) ongoing “audit” of the “12 City Intelligences” as they showed up at the ILR. Her summary for heuristic purposes is here and explanation of the 12 intelligences is here.
- Eric Troth, member of the Harvest Team, proposed (and facilitated) a series of post-event Follow-up conference calls among participants. (See description in Ripples section below.)
- an airport-ride and local-lodgings-ride bulletin board
- a “singles” bulletin board
- an Open Space Technology exercise for everyone, facilitated emergently in concert with the Hosts, by Marilyn Hamilton, which resulted in 6 groups given time and space to meet and then report to whole group. The topics which people were most interested in included: Elders/Youth/Generations, 2T Motivation, Shadow, How to increase the impact of this Event on the Integral We-space eco-system and on the larger world/Mapping the Integral eco-system/Platforms for interaction, Taking healthcare from Me to We, Creative Force/Big Womb, Leadership, Living 2T Relationships. (It would be lovely if the discussion begun on developing Open Space Technology into more Integral consciousness, were to be continued by someone. Some ideas “we” had are summarized below.)
- the humor and inspiration of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” as Jeff’s “the most spiritual song ever,” led in two rounds by Jeff when our group energy was diminished
- Once Rob McNamara was asked to get us moving, to amp up our low group energy.
- Toward the same purpose, Terry once lead the participants in Sacred Laughter exercise.
Figure 7: Laughing Yoga with Terry Patten
- sharing of e-mailing list of everyone with everyone, with opt-outs invited prior; this was done at request of participants, on their initiative.
- standing recognition for participants under 30, in their 50’s, or 60’s, or 70’s
- standing recognition of participants from outside the US
- line of shoulder-rubbing, and whole-group hug at the end of the event
- lots of sprawling out on the “living room” floor instead of sitting in chairs
Figure 8: Lounging with Diane Hamilton, Not-known, Susanne Cook-Greuter, Jeff Salzman
Reflections, Highlights, Harvests[iii]
My more extensive and in-depth constructively-critical reflections on ILRoom are here.
Certainly the highlight for many was seeing Ken Wilber in person, hearing his inspiring and provocative message, and being able to ask him questions. A great deal of what he said to us is woven into this report. Most wonderfully, video of his talking with us is available, see References. He put his finger on the pulse of our energetic lifeblood, suggested what we needed for greater strength, urged and allowed us to relax and yet also to engage more strenuously in becoming who we are, inspired the heck out of us in describing his view of our place in history and in the future; we had an awesome time together with him, the inspirer and informer of so much of who we are and who we are becoming!
If I were to somewhat humorously summarize much of what I heard him say to us, I might put it this way: Look folks. You might or might not be willing to own that you are Second Tier but you are, and it’s time you allowed yourself to acknowledge that you are, and that you are a leading edge of humanity, and that you are laying down new Kosmic Grooves. You are doing it in every possible way: by thinking new kinds of thoughts, new kinds of feelings, new kinds of relationships, new kinds of conversations as well as new kinds of actions in the world. And we’re all learning how to do that together and we are all practicing together, so let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt, and go for it. (More about this here.)
So, given all the above about what was advertised and what we did where with whom, what did we talk about, what did we say? The following ridiculously condensed narrative is filtered through the notes of one participant, Alia Aurami. The notes seemed to organize themselves into question/themes which might be regarded as a meta-narrative of the event.
Who are we? (Defining Second Tier) How are we different from who we were? (Differentiating from Green) Can we really own who we are? (Owning Second Tier) How shall we be more of who we are? (Re-inventing Life at 2T) As part of that life, what are our responsibilities to the world (Responsibilities of 2T) and what can we do for one another (Doing for One Another)? And as part of differentiating from Green and re-inventing our lives, how will Open Space Technology (Morphing Open Space Technology) and Leadership (2T Leadership) be different? Each of those is described in the sections below.
One might expect going into such an event there would be a great interest in “defining” “Second-Tier,” “Second-Tier We-space,” “Integral We-Space,” and great interest in setting forth their qualities/markers, and in arriving at the best injunctions for co-creating such we-spaces. Not so! Someone did say to me “I was starstruck and I wanted to know what Integral meant. What am I going to do, what is it like to be there, and Ken is going to tell me what it means to be an Integral … and he said Nobody knows!! It was very frustrating, like, how come nobody knows?” However, many participants did not seem not especially interested in defining, nor was there much explicit emphasis on that from the ILR hosts. A great deal could be gleaned, implicit and experiential, requiring the “reflection on experience” which is what we might call Second-Order Learning. Rather than defining terms, we seemed to be led to create meanings. That said, here’s what my notes revealed about that theme of “defining,” and the other themes. Most of the words in the following Themes reports are taken directly from my notes, and are not my own wordings.
Theme: Defining Second Tier (Individual and We-Space)
What are the properties/qualities/official criteria of Integral we-space and conversations, and what are the relevant injunctions for getting there? Ken said we long for what we would recognize. He said that our interest in markers springs from our desire to be Integral, and not Integral as understood from Orange, etc. A great deal of the event implicitly offered some guidance, and encouraged us to live in the questions. We did a small-group exercise to explore and create a list: “What are the qualities of 2T conversation, and what injunctions get us there? How do I identify when I am in Second Tier?” (I suggest elsewhere my tension between capturing such insights and “trusting the Field.”)
What got named at various times during the weekend? Authenticity, foremost. Aliveness, being visible, vulnerable, assertive, connecting, detecting resonance, lovingkindness as a state of being, peaceful, cooperating, giving and receive compassionate criticism as growthful adventure. Noticing times we feel alive, or tear up. Allowing heart-resonance to make meaning for us. Thirst for sincerity and joy. Humor, shifting from profound to irreverent, playfulness even with not-knowing, creativity/going outside the box, compassion/greater scope of care, responsibility, enlivened, energetic, sparkly. Example of playfulness and energy-attention combined toward coherence: Row Row Row Your Boat song in rounds we were spontaneously led in, by Jeff.
At 2T, personal identity is fluid/flexible, not fixed; we live the koan: If each identity is true, then who am I really? We have a new relationship to attention and questions: Notice and integrate what gets our attention and love. Sophisticated moving among perspectives. Post-rational magic and alchemy from our freedom. We live, love, and play with questions, poetry and koans, letting them change us, rather than going for answers. We trust impulses, explore, allow things to come through us. Comfortable with non-verbal/ subtle energetic, e.g. starting event sessions by toning.
We have increased capacity to see how we need to grow, and are nourished by challenges to growth, are willing to be uncomfortable, urgent, even “dark night of the soul” to grow, and we seek new ways to express our changes. We think and do from passions. We have radically less fear, realizing it was a powerful motive, and that leaving it does not doom us to mediocrity. Love, self-expression, and creativity replace fear as motives. We focus on spiritual awakening as “coming home,” and are more familiar with our Higher Self and with unworded feelings.
Ken said that we will create a new higher interwoven Buddha/Dharma/Sangha and that going into higher states together is especially important for any 2T we-spaces which transcend and include all previous stages of we-space. Turquoise, especially, looks at channeling a We, a larger intelligence voice, edging into something Whole. The Higher We includes shifts in “who I am,” shifts in identities to include larger We-identity and smaller ones.
Theme: Differentiating from Green
We spent quite a bit of time and energy, some explicitly and most implicitly, experiencing – and exploring ways of transcending – the limitations of Green for individuals and groups. Ken said “When one gets bored and tired with/in Green, there is astonishing acceleration of growth.”
A major exploration into differentiating from Green which Ken spent a great deal of time and energy on, was simply “owning” that we are Second Tier [I would say if we are] without Green resistance to possible dominator-hierarchy/pride involved, without Green’s inability to acknowledge natural growth hierarchies as real. Ken said many things to counteract that Green tendency: We are the leading edge, architects of the future; that is simply a description of the facts, a scientific reality. For reasons we don’t know, the inevitable leading edge of evolution has settled on our heads. Each of us can say “I was part of the most extraordinary transformation in human history (humanity’s first Tier-jump.) I helped.” Welcome to your place in history.
Instead of defying power and breaking down structures, 2T uses me-power and we-power, seeing crisis as opportunity for creativity in evolution. In 2T we enjoy differences more, and challenge the assumption that “Others must participate in what I need or want in order for me to get it.”
Ken asserted: “We don’t know how to do large-group conversations which are Second Tier,” and we saw firsthand Green’s tendency to jump into labeling “problems,” offering personal best solutions, needing consensus, and being aware of “what I want,” but not “what does We want?”
We have to discover what works in new ways of leading and operating a “we-space,” by trying things out. There was a constantly-reiterated injunction for each of us to constantly “Monitor, notice, feel, and be guided by the energy in your we-space right now.” Our old ways are not working when group energy loses aliveness, vitality, engagement, coherence, or integratedness (which I note are energy patterns of a group, not interpersonal dynamics.) (Green tends to deaden, dull, bore, by “reporting-mode” and weighting everything equally.)
We notice and monitor the condition of energies and limitations of a “we” by noticing and monitoring our own body/feelings, without necessity to language. As Nature’s creatures, we know how to let our nerves open to Nature and thus to we-spaces.
We were also encouraged to take individual and group responsibility and to learn “skillful means” to quickly change group energies so something new and beautiful can emerge. (Applause followed.) Mentioned or encouraged (and sometimes modeled by the hosts) included: experiment with new group dynamics/processes, get up and move, laugh together, shift to “ragged” first-person sharing of passions, vulnerabilities, and personal aliveness, etc. Instead of labeling problems and offering solutions, we can tune into a group and sense what is going on and what wants to emerge, as well as notice and foster aliveness, resonance, and coherence. Using a gong sound, singing together, moving together increased coherence. Coherence has a slight unresolve, no tidy closure, is more about alignment and resonance, and it keeps the conversation open, so it might be the 2T version of Green’s “agreement/consensus.”
Certainly one of the highlights of the weekend was the trialogue around ways of approaching the state of the world, in which Terry, Jeff, and Diane got into “ragged truth-telling” (Terry’s phrase) including conflict and polarity. That trialogue formed the basis for many later conversations among us, as well as a followup exercise aimed at helping us articulate our own views and feelings, and reach our own personal integration of the conflicts and polarities. Other participants described to me later their thoughts during the high-energy trialogue: “It was cool to see them genuinely playing off this conflict in front of everybody. And the audience is sitting there either cheering one or the other, or totally bewildered and anxious: What is happening? Whoa, are they going to fight? I was this close to raising my hand. I felt they needed to be stopped. Diane kept inviting and heightening conflict. That seemed to be the hallmark of moving beyond Green. It created more energy.”
It was also clear that typical Green group dynamics cannot deal effectively with conflict, including polarity-related conflict, which tends to stall any group-based creativity or purpose-achievement, and to render the group energy “incoherent.” Yet in any group, Diane pointed out, negating forces emerge and are either cumbersome or managed well. We were encouraged to realize that conflict and polarization can be dealt with using skillful-means Integral approaches to find and identify tensions, to witness and hold polarities and to make them an object and something to be lived in, rather than denied or solved, thus making them into transformative creative opportunities. Confrontation can actually move us through and past Green. Paradoxically to Green, polarity and conflict energies, if used for the benefit of “together-we” can result in greater coherence and aliveness of the “we.” A both-and approach – by going deeply into two places energetically and expressing our struggle to integrate, or our integration, not “splitting the difference” – makes for mystery, depth, and miracle in life, not flat. Allow, embrace, and seek to understand complex differences. We explored approaches to differences.
We were often reminded that Green we-spaces (typically) cannot handle shadow work, whereas this is built into an Integral We-space process by learning skillful means to notice, acknowledge, energize, and weave in marginalized voices, shadow, and critiques, using their creative potential efficiently, quickly, easily.
Another marker of the Green/Integral difference noted is the 2T willingness to at times exclude – with patience, tolerance, and love to be able to say “Stop talking now,” rather than insisting on privileging everything. Part of that difference was deeply explored in our Open Space exercise:
Evolving Open Space Technology to Second Tier-ness
One of the major themes of the event emerged to be the evolution of Open Space Technology (and see here) into new Second Tier form/process. As we went through an Open Space exercise, some of us focused on this. It was asserted that OS is not Green in essence, but people have uneven capacity to think as a We. A 2T shift in design of OS conversation structure might include: Strengthening some new LR aspects of recording, the initial framing of the process to participants, including using the guiding question “What does We need from groups at the end?” Thus, new elements at 2T include subordinating the whole process to a “We” goal, “capturing the passion and the essence,” crystallizing and discerning, rather than simply reporting, and a number of other specific practices, processes, and attitudes which were discussed.[iv]
Figure 9: Marilyn Hamilton, facilitator of the Open Space exercise, with Terry, Diane, and Jeff
Leading from Second Tier vs from Green
We did not spend a lot of time talking explicitly about Integral leadership, but the emergent nature of the Event was itself an exercise in exploring all sorts of leadership, some new to those experimenting. One prominent exploration was the role of “We” in Leadership: “We-dership.” 2T leaders can manage logistics as a We agreement open for input vs always having a rule.
“’Container’ is a big word here. Trust process of your relationship (as leader) to it.” (This could almost be regarded as a meta-purpose for the event.) Dilemma of Exit Green: can’t lead. Yellow: be clear on rules of power and leadership. “This single issue is crucial for Green to Yellow.” Other markers of 2T Leadership: look for emergent, elicit it and organize it into a vision. Ken said to look for emergent and facilitate it vs endless opinion-giving. 2T leadership experiments with information flows and the most creative forms of functioning. Crucial for 2T leadership: Learn your own personal typologies and shadows, and learn how to act and be beyond them. Co-leaders are of value because they can help with this and differences contribute to strength of a leadership team. Relevance of age: The Elders Open Space group discussion focused on defining leadership and sharing resources among age groups.
Theme: Owning Second Tier-ness
Ken strongly pushed us to “Own who you are.” He said much more: There is not necessarily any superiority/ego-pride in looking at the facts, being willing to own them and “state as facts.” We are doing something unique and seriously important in history, without being “special.” These subtle Green shadows no longer serve us. Self-identification accelerates our growth; we see our capacity as a global worldcentric thinking-structure about global problems. Owning allows us to be kind, patient, and experimental, willing to risk and fail, inventing as we go, focused on “How should I act?” after we get over the fact of being 2T. If others don’t resonate with us, we tend to fly under our own potential. If we turn our backs on our potential, we stunt humanity’s evolution.
We did a conversation in groups of 5 that built a field of 2T awareness in group: Let yourself be 2T, name how it is for you, voice the recognition of that clarity. “Exercise strengthens owning.”
Theme: (Re-)Inventing Life at Second Tier[v]
Ken sad that we are hanging on the edge that is enabling the Morphic Field of humanity’s embodied Second Tier-consciousness structure-stage. We don’t “know what it is” yet we are having experiences of it, and beginning to inhabit it. Our minds got into Integral, now our hearts and bodies want it, too. “Live it; do it.” We’re all learning how to inhabit the culturally-unusual and new consciousness we are. Let’s learn and practice together, and be willing to be uncomfortable, awkward and vulnerable, and be patient and kind with one another. We don’t “know” what we are doing or where we are going or what works, yet there is an inner imperative to do and go; the old doesn’t work, “now” has to be lived from new viewpoint! He went on to say that we are present and future at same time.
Remember, he noted, there have only been 6 stage transformations in humanity’s existence, and this is the first-ever Tier-jump. Each stage has to re-invent anew and experiment not mentally, but embodied across all human activities. (Integral has now been embodied in 50 areas of life, Ken said.) That adds life to our life! This koan is our quickening, asks more from us, it disquiets all of us — enlivens us to all of life with Yes and with letting ourselves be changed by anything.
Novelty involves being clumsy, chaotic, sticking neck out, doing what scares us, and paying the price of not-knowing. We can have capacities we don’t know yet that we have; stretching helps us uncover-discover those. Training, trial-and-error, enacting, re-learning how to do everything – and messing up at this higher level is our first hurdle. Ken said we are figuring out 2T for first time ever in history; it could take a person 5 years to learn how to be their Turquoise stage.
Ken emphasized over and over: Stop talking about transforming to 2T and start talking about translation within 2T. When are you going to live? Take a breath. “Act your stage.” He said “99% of life is translation:” how to talk, care, relate, give/get feedback, rather than how to get higher. Now, how do I act here, what do I do? How do we even invent new ways to learn and converse together? Explore ways to deepen awareness and teach it and live it, to be more conscious, loving, embracing. Music and nature help change our “state” and help us “embody.”
Ken said that we’re all looking for a LL to learn to be an Integral social holon. He recommended we create Integral Theory gatherings, around higher ways of Being at Integral. Create relationship-exploring gatherings, re higher ways of relating at Integral stages. Explore Higher states of We. Try out and discover new ways of operating as a “We” and new ways of leadership of a “We.” We can increase our ability to feel resonance, viscerally, with person or group. Lock in on it, and space opens; we get internal knowing of what to do or say.
We explored: Let yourself influence and be influenced. Your very existence exerts an influence not just on people, but via Morphic Fields/Kosmic Grooves on the future of the world. Letting yourself be influenced partly means not just getting new ideas, it means even subliminal subconscious changes, as a result of energetic transmissions, for example as a result of the practices you engaged in around your own challenges during the event, as well as insights and new relationships.
Re-inventing life at 2T includes learning to deal with new more complex and more potentially harmful kinds of shadow, and also learning new ways for the feminine to have a bigger say.
Ken offered us a new cultural meme for envisioning this massive re-invention process: A ship is moored to a dock with many ropes. The ship (of humanity) stays at the dock (where it is now) until the last rope is removed. Before that, it appears that nothing has changed. We are untying the ship’s ropes, with urgency, and everything we do has relevance, but we can’t see result very easily, or yet. He also offered a profoundly moving affirmation that every 2T thought, feeling, interaction, conversation, we-space, group, blog, book, gathering, etc. is another rope being released. These “Second Tier/Integral” “artifacts” deepen the Kosmic Groove (or Morphic Field, as he elaborated in his talk) of humanity’s inhabiting of Second Tier consciousness/embodiment. This was among the “Second Tier cultural memes” of greatest significance to us at ILR.[vi]
Helping each other re-invent our lives at 2T
We can step up as powerful leaders to help each other grow into new habits of relating and living, cohering as pioneers and dealing with our diversity. Our commitment to each other and to “us” as the bleeding edge of evolution is strong; we want to arrive together, Ken said. What is missing for us, is “us.” Our passion is moving into being Us, in a thousand ways. Alia Aurami voiced as all: “I want to live this and I want to live it with others. That is my heart’s cry. It can be only started at this event and I am willing to put forth the effort. And I am willing to be uncomfortable while learning.”
I would say that the “culture of the Living Room” strongly included this willingness of people to be uncomfortable in stretching into whatever was wanting to happen, and into a greater capacity to live a joyful life and bring about a world more to their liking. I thought that’s really different from the culture at some other Integral conferences where sometimes it’s more about absorbing information and networking; there really was something different going on here.
Risk: We are learning to risk with compassion and eagerness, offering one another space to be “the new me” and offering reflection on real-time process, co-creating our environment as conducive to a choice to grow through curiosity – a chosen attitude of relating to experience, sometimes hard to access without others. Knowing others do it, that it’s alive for us as a community, helps. Together we can recognize the “new” possible in each moment. Ken urged us “Give yourself (and others) some slack. Talk about ways to enact.” I observed among the people that our caring for each other greatly helped in risking to learn and stretch with courage into the satisfaction of expressing ourselves and being ourselves in new ways.
Practices: We can offer one another many new practices in re-inventing ourselves at Second Tier. “We need each other for learning” was a deep and widespread recognition among participants. One practice is awareness of what’s happening with other. A new spiritual practice helps Larger-Self/We as well as smaller “self” growing, including speaking up in large groups. A big part of risking and practices together is helping one another uncover our shadows, including uncovering and owning our gifts, and embodying those in our experiences right here.
We: A strong question was “What can the We do that we can’t individually?” Create containers for “We” gatherings. Meditate together; these are transmissive of energy-carrying signals. I would say that we “got” experientially that creation of our own memes definitely helps create a we-space! Jargon, family jokes, etc. [See list of “our” ILR-culture-memes in Endnote 6.] Someone shouted out at one point in the whole group: We need a Match.com of Integral! Alia Aurami shouted that it exists, made by Martin Ucik who wrote Integral Relationships book. Many didn’t know that. Community support, emerging!
Appreciate, Share, Belong: The gathering met deep needs spoken as “Meet others can engage with at this level.” “Not alone in unpleasant feelings in life in this world.” Ken said “We need to come together and share our happiness, concerns, upsets, worries, and joys.” Get together, connect with heart. Celebrate together, praise, appreciate. Words like “belong,” “chosen family,” “intimacy here,” “find each other,” “see each other,” and “share” carried emotional resonance. Sincerity moderated diversity. There was among many of us a “my tribe” sense, people quickly trusting and opening to one another, sharing deeply, laughing and crying easily even with new people. I saw people go through a sequence of: Belonging, Recognition, Relief, Permission, Relaxing, which freed energy to explore, make mistakes, be in the unknown, experiment, and then shine. Many of us wondered how to use all that beyond this gathering, into its fullness in our lives.
Support: “We’re for each other” was one of our we-space memes. Support of every kind helps the Morphic Forms of Second Tier grow until the last rope is released on the ship. Owning being pioneers and understanding “us” best, knowing we need help in learning and support with challenges allows us to ask for and offer: feedback that can be trusted, being challenged, care, work, cooperation, synergy of young and older, and especially connecting our gifts, combining our talents, supporting each other to bring those to the world. Prior mutual support of “a commitment to more community” within Mexico was amplified. People being kind, patient, attentive, and authentic, evoked those qualities as we accepted and conveyed that each is immensely precious, and that being authentically ourselves is supported.
Theme: Responsibilities of Second Tier
There are plenty of big questions of deep concern to Integrally-interested folks: the state of the world, action from the Integral Community, most-skillful ways to engage with First Tier individuals and groups wanting to grow, and simply “living with the pain of people I see.”
Throughout the event, we spoke of what expressing our responsibility to the world as Second Tier and therefore as leaders, might be. With greater capacity, comes greater duty/responsibility to express at a higher level than before. It’s a koan we work with. We feel creative tension between our own luxury and our responsibility to those who don’t have it. We also realize that inevitably, because everything we think, feel, or do contributes to the Morphic Field of 2T humanity, we are not doing anything just for ourselves, even if it looks like a “just me” activity. As architects of the future, we use whatever power and privilege we might have, as expressions of 2T morality.
Some of the inner challenges we might face in carrying out our responsibilities were poignantly expressed: “I’m superior so they will feel disrupted.” “I don’t know what to do and that bothers me.”
The first arena of responsibility has to do with Second Tier ways of being in a world with evolutionary crisis. Many of these suggestions were articulated by Ken during his talk.
Evolution, crisis, beyond our ability, is opportunity, calling us forward, to expand and include, vs contract and be torn open. Friendliness to evolution makes us more helpful than fear-fixing. Our unique capacity for species annihilation calls forth skillful means for new collective intelligence “we” to pull us into positive, conscious evolution on a new scale, out of self-orientation and volition. We are, in this responsibility on this scale, as Zachary Feder coined a new meme for us, “weapons of mass illumination.” A related “injunction,” someone said, “Create, don’t bitch.”
Figure 10: Zachary Feder, Rob McNamara, Brooke Gessay McNamara
Another profoundly fundamental responsibility is the essence of Second Tier: Knowing that each earlier stage has something of value to contribute, something important to add to the world, and using skillful means to evoke and manifest that – being willing to work with all, find a Yes to every perspective and fostering multiple intelligences and passions, weaving them into a whole “we,” building “one-we-energy-field” capacities. Ken said that is an attitude unheard of in the world. Jeff Salzman offered a profound list of the positive potential contributions of each First-Tier stage to service, to emergent advantage. (I sure would love to get that list!)
Another arena of responsibility revolved around our ways of being in conversation. Each has responsibility to stop and “be silence” – when hear resonance, connect and build – be evolutionary impulse – pay more attention to developmental field, support. Notice 2T-consciousness moments in a conversation, sense who’s resonating, and make that resonance visible to amplify consciousness and encourage growth, including integrating conflict and shadow. What is highest potential of this conversation? This is a practice which includes mastering polarity and conflict, focusing on energies, aliveness, community, we-space, working with states for coherence and more consciousness, deepening, fostering learning-via-reflection, modeling, inviting.
Another responsibility was around simply the quality of our presence with others: We shine and transmit 2T beyond words by our compassion, our congruence of words and presence, our sensitivity and humor, our embodiment of the future now.
Another responsibility was around what we do with one another which can “change the world”: 2T conversations lead to 2T communities synergizing diversity. Tetra-arising of 2T – we have a deep responsibility to build infrastructure among us by connecting, corresponding, supporting, working together, sharing information and ideas. (Applause.) We help one another master 2T skills and figure out 2T living, accepting failure as part of it, including around feelings, sharing from depth. We help one another with the “I don’t know” even though we don’t know how to model or describe it.
Figure 11: A two-person conversational exercise
Ripples out from ILR, Momentum generated (only a few of the ones I know about)
Despite the list below, and factoring in that subliminal individual changes abounded and are powerful ripples, nonetheless it seemed there were few elements of the ILR designed to maximize its effect on the world, via all kinds of ripples and harvests, taking full advantage to “real-ize” all the potentials and wisdom generated. Just for example, I do not know whether the Hosts will be publishing anything or what will be incorporated into their work; I don’t know whether there will be any research followup for participants; I don’t know whether the notes from the Open Space groups and Rebecca Colwell’s displayed notes will be used further in any way by someone. I hope this is so.
Even with “the conference in the hallways” billed as “the main event,” there still was a great “conference in the hallways” (as well as during exercises) with rich connections made, and a number of conversations begun which are turning into friendships, networking connections outward, collaborations, projects, and even groups! Some of the Ripples are mentioned in the Resources section below, and some are mentioned above in the Emergent Activities section. It isn’t possible to know or list them all!
Follow-up Conference Calls for Participants
The experimental nature of the event continued in five follow-up conference calls, an endeavor announced at the event, initiated and hosted by ILR participant and experienced Integral We-Space facilitator Eric Troth. Similar themes emerged as during the in-person ILR:
How do these gatherings become more solidly Second-Tier? What are the markers or qualities of higher-order engagement?
How do the calls relate back to the Boulder event itself as well as forward to the wider, nested Integral communities in which they are also embedded? How might they serve even more broadly?
What is a generative relationship between pre-designed structures from the host/leader and emergent structures originating from the participants?
How do we synergize the divergent interests, purposes, and capacities of the participants?
For example, how do we handle tensions across the spectrum of those seeking more in-the-moment explorations of higher consciousness and those seeking project partners for something much more tangible and action-oriented?
How do we best harvest the wide variety of insights and ongoing inquiries that arise within the space? (Extensive Google doc notes are available for call participants.)
The calls have been rich experiences of growth and communion for many participants and include resource-sharing and plans for future calls and collaborations.
Jeff Salzman’s followup interview with participant Dr. Keith Witt about the event.
Facebook discussions on event page https://www.facebook.com/events/103771406496836/
Facebook Group for Participants (Contact https://www.facebook.com/gabriela.larranaga.9 )
Some specific formal ripples I happen to be aware of include presentations to Austin Integral group by Jordan Myska Allen and to Seattle Integral group by Sylvia Woods and myself.
The above is just a small sample of the ripples outward and momentum/projects generated. If you know of others, I would love to hear about them!
Figure 12: We hugging Us at the end
References and Resources for Further Exploration of “Integral We-Space”
In a developing eco-system, diversity is a potential source of strength/robustness/thriving and a potential source of clash, disharmony, weakness, fragmentation/isolation, and failure to develop. In the developing eco-system of people in and beyond Integral-folks interested in this emerging phenomenon/capacity, there is a huge amount of diversity, not just of stages but of approaches and even ideas of what is going on and what is possible. I ask: how can we, individually and collectively, contribute to the recognition and acceptance of, and then the positive use of, that diversity, toward thriving of the emerging eco-system vs its failing to thrive/survive?
Here are links related to the Integral Living Room Oct.-Nov. 2013:
Video of Ken Wilber’s talk at ILR:
ILR Main Website: http://www.integrallivingroom.com/
Click on top tab The Conversation So Far, there are 7 audios there, including several on we-space. Click on top tab Blog for additional commentary about and the links for the downloadable audios. (One of those from Ken Wilber especially rich about higher-consciousness we-spaces, available here, is also available here on Integral Life, with less written commentary.)
Related to ILR:
Here are links related to Bonnitta Roy’s Symposium on Collective Insight, (a higher-consciousness we-space inquiry) held November 2013, which ILR Host Terry Patten participated in:
Explore the vids there and all the links off of that, especially the link below:
Videos of Bonnie’s event:
Links to Patricia Albere and Jeff Carreira re Evolutionary Collective/Evolutionary Relationships/Mutual Awakening exploration of higher-consciousness we-spaces:
This is especially interesting and educational, a free e-book to download:
And here is ILR Host Jeff Salzman’s interview of Patricia Albere about her we-space work: http://www.dailyevolver.com/2013/11/what-we-space-an-integral-inquiry-into-the-nature-of-higher-inter-subjectivity-audio/
Link to (one of) Diane Hamilton’s versions of Integral We-space:
Pacific Integral research, publications, GeneratingTransformativeChange Program:
Here are some other links to explore:
These two blogs have posts & many links out to other higher-consciousness we-space-related resources and explorations:
Google+ Collective Intelligence and Collective Wisdom Community:
Circling practice, Decker Cunov and others:
WePractice, Dustin DiPerna, Michael Wombacher, and Michael Brabant:
Collective Presencing (Ria Baeck):
http://www.kosmosjournal.org/articles/the-circle-of-presence-building-the-capacity-for-authentic-collective-wisdom and http://collectivepresencing.org/
About the Author
Rev. Alia Zara Aurami, Ph.D. (nickname “OM”) is Head Minister of “Amplifying Divine Light in All” Church, an independent micro-church (www.divinelightchurch.org.) devoted to manifesting the highest vision of this planet through co-creating the specifics of a more spiritually-conscious world. Her current primary ministry is amplifying the human spiritual capacity for higher-consciousness collective intelligence. This includes helping world-improving organizations and groups enhance their natural and collective/spiritual intelligences so they can accomplish more with less. (See http://organizationalintelligences.blogspot.com.) Her Integral-related blog is http://exploringsecondandthirdtier.blogspot.com. A longer bio is at http://www.archive-ilr.com/archives-2010/2010-08/omnotes810.pdf She may be reached at divinelightchurch at gmail dot com (Seattle, Washington, USA)
[i] Contact at alyssa.a.morin at gmail dot com.
[ii] If you spot corrections needed anywhere in this Notes report, please by all means send them to the author at the email address given! All unattributed words in quote marks are from my notes. Also, comments are welcome via email.
[iii] Any readers interested in studying and practicing the art of harvesting Integral-related events for memory, meaning, and momentum for inter- and intra-community use, please contact the author at the email address given.