CODA: Colin Morley and Ken Wilber

Coda / September 2005


Ken Wiblur

On July 7th Colin Morley, a marketer, who used his experience to make a real difference in the world and who touched lives all over the world-a leader, in other words-with his involvement in the Be the Change movement and the London SDi group, was killed by a terrorist bomb while riding a tube on Edgware Road in London, England.

I have been reminded of the following section of Ken Wilber’s A Theory of Everything (and I hope Ken will forgive this lengthy quote):

A More Measured Greatness

Because the health of the entire spectrum of consciousness is paramount, a genuinely universal integralism would measure more carefully its actual impact. I have long maintained that the real revolutions facing today’s world involve not a glorious collective move into transpersonal domains, but the simple, fundamental changes that can be brought to the magic, mythic, and rational waves of existence.

Human beings are born and begin their evolution through the great spiral of consciousness, moving from archaic to magic to mythic to rational to…perhaps integral, and perhaps from there into genuinely transpersonal domains. But for every person that moves into the integral or higher, dozens are born into the archaic. The spiral of existence is a great unending flow, stretching from body to mind to soul to spirit, with millions upon millions constantly flowing through that great river from source to ocean. The major problem remains: not, how can we get everybody to the integral wave or higher, but how can we arrange the health of the overall spiral, as billions of humans continue to pass through it, from one end to the other, year in and year out?

In other words, most of the work that needs to done is work to make the lower (and foundational) waves more healthy in their own terms. The major reforms do not involve how to get a handful of boomers into second-tier, but how to feed the starving millions at the most basic waves; how to house the homeless millions at the simplest of levels; how to bring health care to the millions who do not possess it. An integral vision is one of the least pressing issues on the face of the planet. Except in this regard: the advantage of second-tier vision-logic awareness is that it more creatively helps with the solutions to those pressing problems.

And further on,

Nonetheless, the advantage of second-tier integral awareness is that it more creatively helps with the solutions to those pressing problems. In grasping big pictures, it can help suggest more cogent solutions. It is our governing bodies, then, that stand in dire need of a more integral approach. It is our educational institutions, overcome with deconstructive postmodernism, that are desperate for a more integral vision. It is our business practices, saturated with garmented gains, that cry out for a more balanced approach. It is our health-care facilities that could greatly benefit from the tender mercies of an integral touch. It is the leadership of the nations that might appreciate a more comprehensive vision of their own possibilities. In all these ways and more, we could indeed use an integral vision for a world gone slightly mad.

How can it be any clearer? Making the spiral healthier is the vision. Making it possible for people and cultures to be who and what they are, while moving toward a more humane and less destructive (of self and others) way of being in the world, in the universe is an integral vision. Now, by saying it this way have I just turned this integral vision into some green mush? I hope not. For if I have, what purpose, then for the integral. Health for health’s sake? Balance for the sake of balance? The tender mercies of an integral touch.for what?

The “So what?” is more than the survival of the species, the survival of the planet. It is ameliorating the pain and harm that we cause to each other and to others as the species and the planet and the universe is evolving. Yet, how can we know how our individual and localized pleasures and pains will make any difference? How do we know that the actions of terrorists are not required for laying the foundation for an era of development, peace and prosperity? I would suggest that we don’t know. I would suggest that the misery and pain of some may be necessary for the joy and peace of the many. To think otherwise is to fall back on hope, faith or something like Gandhi’s dictum that one cannot achieve good ends through evil means (Not a bad place to fall back to!).

I don’t know if Colin and Ken ever met. I doubt it. But it seems to me that Ken’s words speak to the likes of Colin Morley, a leader in a community of leaders.

Colin Morley, in the days before his tragic death in the July 7th terrorist bombings in London, wrote the following to a friend: “Can we ‘consciously evolve’ to become a new being/beings? Or will we simply be components or food for the next being? Or a waste product of an evolutionary dead end?” His tragedy is our tragedy. His loss is our loss. Now we must carry on seeking to understand how we mere mortals can find a path to making this Earth a place to thrive in the face of natural and intentional disaster that seems to be of such growing prevalence in the world. It is making the spiral healthy that drew Colin and his talent.

Cindy Prince shared a poem that connects to Colin for her:

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

Bombs still killing

no one willing

to take the first step

to change

but it doesn’t have to be this way

Children starving

so alarming

yet what can we do?

but ignore it

but it doesn’t have to be this way

People dying

we keep trying

to understand why

not knowing the spiritual side

of illness

but it doesn’t have to be this way

Gloom and doom

in the TV room


instead of dreaming

of how it could be

but it doesn’t have to be this way

We can make a choice

grasp another’s hand and rejoice

then experience the wonder

because, after all,

it doesn’t have to be this way

In the meanwhile, a challenge of integral theory is that it offers a window on these issues that is greater than those with overly focused meaning making and solution generating. It offers a way of bringing together the partial perspectives and the partial solutions and actions into a gestalt that has greater potential for doing good and – perhaps – doing greater evil. We can’t know. We can only hope, have faith or focus on good means.

— Russ