Like everything in nature, there is a rhythmic breathing that seems to define the ebb and flow of our collective consciousness. What’s unique about an aspiring second-tier community is that there is a concerted effort to bring awareness to this process and to continually balance our outward initiatives with an inward looking, self-reflective period. Our most recent Meetup provided our New York community just such an opportunity.
Perhaps it’s common for groups to pause a moment, take stock and honor their past, assess the present and consider their futures, but the conversation about the future of the Integral New York Salon was anything but “ordinary.”
The evening started off with an integral assessment of the community and Devin Martin (one of the co-leaders of iNY) invited us to explore some of the aspects of our shared we-space using the four quadrants. Most of us agreed that our personal, individual practices were representative of the upper left quadrant and our engagement with the system at large was indicative of the lower right.
But there was some debate about what it means to be a community member and how it manifests in the upper right quadrant and, ironically, even in the lower left. Borrowing from the Decker Cunov’s Authentic World community, Devin suggested that the salon represents the UR and this was a little problematic for some. However, most of us agreed that doing spiritual work in a community setting and accessing state levels of “we” so as to establish a stable second-tier consciousness was an aim of the LL that we all shared.
With the benefit of hindsight, it occurred to me that perhaps what did not get revealed during this conversation was the actual quality of the ties that bond and the emotional, heartfelt and loving relationships that have emerged as a result of our time together. Could it be that the affection, fondness, and mutual respect that has developed over the years is something so obvious and so taken for granted that it got overlooked during the course of our conversation?
If you walk into room at most religious or “spiritual” gatherings, you will most likely encounter a group of people who are openly affectionate, congenial and genuinely pleased to be in the company of kindred spirits, but what sets an integral community that endeavors to enact second-tier consciousness as a collective apart from these other groups?
This is the question that kept coming up over and over again. What role do we play in the emergence of integral consciousness and how do we know that we’re doing it? We may be wrestling with this question for a long time.
Later on in the conversation, it was pointed out that there is a distinction between the integral salon in New York and the integral community at large. That may be true in a sense. However, I think the distinction isn’t always so clear given that all of the individuals who were gathered together at the last meetup seemed to represent a microcosm of the wider community. Granted, this nature has a tendency to shift and change over time, but the old saying, “as above, so below” seems fitting here in that the macrocosm is as the microcosm, and vice versa; within each lies the other, and through understanding one (usually the microcosm) you can understand the other.
At first I was hesitant to embrace the notion that the salon represents that UR of an integral community, but now I’m beginning to see that it could be seen as an outward manifestation of something inherent in the community itself.
(But our aim here is not to slice and dice reality so that it fits neatly into the four quadrants! I’ll try hard not to quibble here so we can find the deeper meaning of what the salon is and what it represents.)
At one point in the evening, Devin shared with us how levels of development might show up in our integral community. I would be curious to know if this “conveyor belt” effect is common in other cities with integral hubs (such as Washington DC, Boston, Seattle, or the Bay Area) or perhaps globally?
As I recall, Devin proposed that the Stages of Membership of an integral community could be defined as follows:
- Newbie – those new to Integral and/or Ken Wilber
- Peer – those who want to flex their integral muscles. This group sees the community as a playground and they understand what it means to hold a second-tier we-space.
- Leader/Facilitator – those who are willing to serve in a leadership position and take on responsibility for steering the group
- Local Emerging Experts – The authors, teachers, and/or counselors who have fully adopted the integral model and applied it to a specific field.
- International Speakers/Experts – Members of the global integral community who are widely known for their contributions and tend to draw a sizable audience when they come to New York to present or offer a workshop/retreat.
We also took time to explore what happens to those who have been at the “peer” level for quite some time and possibly even served as leaders/facilitators for a while but who no longer feel that their wants nor needs are being met (by the monthly salons or by the community, I wonder?) Unfortunately we didn’t have time to dive into this as much as I would’ve liked but it’s important to acknowledge this since there were a lot of familiar faces that were missed at this gathering and I would have appreciated the opportunity to hear more about their thoughts and impressions.
For a long time, we have wrestled with the dynamics of how to manage the needs and desires of the newbies, while also trying to create a meaningful container for those who feel that they have “moved on” or transcended and included integral but I admit that we don’t necessarily have the answers to this question.
What I witnessed at our last meetup was an authentic conversation about what it means to be in integral communion with others and I appreciated how certain members of the group were able to express an upset and have it contained and processed with as much openness and candor that was possible in that moment.
I think that it’s rare to be in a community that seeks to shine a light on subject matters that would be considered “shadow material” in other settings and I was grateful to be able to express this unique ability at the close of our time together. I’m also grateful for the brave souls who are willing to bring seeming undicussable topics into the room and especially appreciative to those who can open their hearts, release their ego and connect with others when an emotionally charged subject presents itself.
This feeling of gratitude I think was shared for the most part and I trust that many of us came away feeling invigorated by our time together and I think that the birth of this blog is a testament to our hopes for the future and our desire to contribute to the unfolding of integral consciousness in some small way.
To that end, I hope you will continue to stay tuned and let your integral voice be heard!
Yours in the journey,