Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Toasters & Consciousness

The universe, the intersubjective matrix of consciousness, is indeed one. There is the great light of awareness unfolding and enfolding within all things equally. The path of yoga, of spirit, of enlightenment is to become aware of this underlying and overarching oneness. It is within this oneness that both unity and separation unfold, arising and falling from state to state, experience to experience. Every experience is a state, both individually and collective. (Do remember that every state, that is every experience, is interpreted from the immediate level of one’s egoic development).

Within oneness, separation and unity flow. In the state of separation there are four primary perspectives: individual interiority, individual exteriority, collective interiority, and collective exteriority. (More on this in a future post).

In the state of both unity and separation, self-awareness is present. In Kashmir Saivite theology, oneness is referred to as Prakasha, the great light of unified consciousness, and self-awareness is referred to as Vimarsha, the great reflective awareness.

In the state of separation, certain objects and beings have greater self-awareness, that is to say, greater consciousness than others. Humans have more self-awareness than rocks. Some humans have more self-awareness than others. Self-awareness is what unfolds and evolves – self-awareness is our becoming self.

Oneness is the ground, the great web, the infinite sameness and selfness of the universe. Self-awareness is present in all in differentiating degrees. My teacher Sally, when writing a paper on Prakasha and Vimarsha in the early 80s, asked her Guru to explain Prakasha and Vimarsha. He said that Prakasha allowed the toaster (he pointed at a toaster sitting next to him) to appear in consciousness and Vimarsha is what allowed the toaster to know it was a toaster. “The toaster knows it’s a toaster?” Sally asked.

“Of course the toaster knows it’s a toaster,” he said.

In reflecting on this and then experiencing this, objects that are thought to be without subjectivity, without self-consciousness, do indeed have self-consciousness. Rocks, for example, have enough self-consciousness to remain rocks knowing that they are rocks. There is a physical, subtle, and deep awareness that allows rocks to remain rocks.

Cut to humans. The practice and path of enlightenment is to not be more conscious, for that’s a give. If something exists, it is consciousness. The practice and path of enlightenment is to become ever more self-conscious. It is to rest as consciousness allowing the self-reflective nature of consciousness to shine brightly, for it is here that unity unfolds and separation unfolds as expressions and experiences of consciousness. It is here where God brightly shines forth as all things and in all things, forever great and divine, and forever present as self.

(There is more to come).

Kristoffer Nelson | Krama Consulting & Development, Inc. | kramaconsulting.com

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Practice: Holonic Unfolding

Meditate on "the individual" by resting in the heart. Meditate on "the everything" within and to the edge of your awareness.

To meditate on the heart is to practice love. To meditate on the everything is to practice wisdom.

To hold the experience of the individual and the whole simultaneously is to be present to the unfolding holonic experience of awareness oriented to and rooted in a body/mind.

Between the whole of the universe and the part of self, the thing called "I" unfolds freely.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Integral Racism and the Green Meme

Every human system has it's biases, preferences, assumptions, and perspectives. Sometimes these are conscious, considered, strategic, and loving, and sometimes they reflect the most horrible unconscious and shadowed aspects of human experience. And there's always something in between. And there's always other stuff too.

This blog is a commentary on integral culture's (generally of course) perspective on systems of human development. If you're not familiar with the development systems of Spiral Dynamics, check it out here. You may also want to look at Susan Cook-Greuter's Action Logics, which is my developmental system of preference.

I don't necessarily prefer conscious and benign over unaware and shadowed - they really can't exist without each other in both linguistic and energetic realities. All opposites live in each other. The conscious exists in the unconscious and the good always exists in the bad - halls of mirrors forever.

I am going to make some meaning and interpretation here to give context to what I am sharing. I am probably wrong about most of this. However, the context gives easier cognitive and emotional access to something that seems fairly true and relevant: the integral community has a serious and horrible bias against the green meme that in some circumstances borders on stageism (a sort of racism about stages of development and development itself).

I have certainly done this. I have certainly placed people in the green meme based on little experience and without questioning the assumption too much. I have also pulled the "they're so green" card and have held it in negative light. This is wrong and also perfect for what it is - it is however not very useful.

Integral is not the truth. Reality is not an integral reality. Reality is not and does not unfold through stages. Integral and stages of development are ways we have created to make meaning of reality. It's a damn good tool, don't get me wrong. But it's just a tool.

The meaning making that the integral perspective brings is sometimes very useful. The integration through a hierarchy of perspectives and recognizing that reality cannot be defined in just one perspective is helpful and in can bring people together creating great connection in the moment. And sometimes it just can't.

One thing a second tier ego can do is recognize what perspective will bring the most value in the present moment. The meaning making that arises at the green meme can sometimes do a better job at bringing people together in a circle of love and trust. Access the whole spiral, please.

The green meme is truly one of my favorite places for a human to arrive. It's the first time they have truly and deeply stepped into a sense of true self. Because of this, a great deal of altruism and care beyond self and embedded culture arises. It is still a first tier perspective, so there will be concrete thinking, preferences of truth, and polarization, all of which has its challenges and assets. The green meme is truly gorgeous and has created some of the most beautiful philosophies and actions in our contemporary world.

Sadly, most of those running around typing others as green haven't yet reached green. Those that have moved past green and still have the impulse to negatively type have some shadow to seriously consider.

Ken Wilber stepped into the integral perspective and created integral theory in a culture of academic pluralism. He got a lot of flack and he had to fight hard. It seems that in the fighting he lost some perspective. It seems that in the fighting and pushing he at times stepped out of the second tier and fought for second tier perspectives from a first tier place. As with all leaders and founders, this energy and perspective has now trickled liked a flood into the integral community. There is certainly nothing truly wrong with this (and there is something very wrong with this), but it has created division and struggle where perhaps healing and development could have been realized.

I recall a place and time when I considered myself second tier because I really understood integral and could really make cognitive meaning using integral. I was no where close to integral though. I got the theory, but my relational, emotional, linguistic, energetic and true meaning making were not close to the second tier.

In a recent conversation someone said: "The hallmark of the second tier is a hierarchy of perspectives." This is both true and not true. Certainly, the early second tier individual has deeply discovered a hierarchy of perspectives (not just cognitively and theoretically, but in an embodied, energetic, and relational way). It seems that a later first tier perspective projects onto the second tier an emphasis on hierarchy, whereas someone deeply embodied in the early second tier has a preference for integration.

Integration through a hierarchy of perspectives is the hallmark of the second tier.

It seems that an early second tier perspective does have a reemerged preference for hierarchy. However, the hierarchy only and always serves towards deeper embodiment and integration. The emphasis is not on hierarchy, but on integration of perspectives to create the most value.

An early second tier person uses hierarchy of perspectives to integrate various thought to create value for everyone.

In the late second tier, we again see a release of hierarchy as it is recognized as a tool for meaning making and a way to create deeper connection. Tools are tools. Tools are great, but they're still tools. In the late second tier there is such an awareness of one's own ego and reality construction, hierarchy and complexity again dissipates towards simplicity, spontaneity, and the creation of moments of unity. Unity and love in a very rich, deep, and subtle way are very much the hallmarks of late second tier, as an individual moves more deeply to the 3rd tier.

A second tier person does not use a hierarchy of perspectives to find greater value in that which is considered "higher." We must value each level of ego embodiment. I see each level that I have embodied adding great perspective to my life and meaning making. I see constantly multiple levels arising at the same time, in a sense competing for space, interpretation and voice. I sometimes interpret things from one level and then act for another. This is all naturally arising and it is deeply chosen to create experiences of love, revelation, unity, and care (at least on my best days).

Green is gorgeous. Learn it, live it, and love it. Value yourself, the whole spiral, and each human being, as they reflect you and add great value to your life.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Is Development Really Development?

I just received my latest Leadership Maturity Profile (SCTi-MAP) back from Susan Cook-Greuter's people and I tested pretty high. For those of you not familiar with Susan's work or system, you can visit my website page on perspectives and download the article titled Cook-Greuter: 9 Action Logics.

I tested as a magician, which means I am in the top 0.01 percent of human ego development. This means that when I am in most groups I am probably the most developed person there (with the exception of all of the groups of very developed people I kick it with). This means that if I am at Dodgers Stadium watching a game, I am probably the most developed person in the stadium.

This is a problem.

When I first received the email with the data and my score, I felt a moment of elation and satisfaction: "wow, I'm hell'a developed." In the next moment I deconstructed and reconstructed about 40 different perspectives on what this meant and held them all simultaneously for a bit, as this is what I do with pretty much everything generally making me fairly dysfunctional (more on this in a second). I then fell over laughing with the thought: if I am somehow as highly developed as this suggests then we are in a world of trouble, as most of the time I feel like a dysfunctional douche bag. Most of the time is an exageration. I would say that I feel like a dysfunctional douche bag about 25% of the time. The rest of the time I feel pretty ordinary, normal. Sometimes, very rarely, I feel neat, but this is typically based on grooming.

I certainly don't feel I am at the top 0.01 percent of human development - really anywhere close.

Interestingly, this score wasn't a huge surprise. I know the system fairly well, and I felt that I had slid into this way of being and space of perception over the last year (it's been a challenging and beautiful year). This all leads me to the title question: is development really development?

I can look at myself, and with all of my developed capacity to see deeply, clearly into myself and reality, I can say I have a lot to learn and growing to do. There is so much about reality, spirit and self that do I now understand or comprehend. And, yet, at the same time, I am deeply, truly satisfied with myself and who I am in the world. I have never been this free to be a dysfuctional douche bag, and I have never at the same time wanted more for myself and those I touch: ah, the gorgeous world of paradox and polarity.

There is huge emphasis placed in the integral and spiritual world on development. This is probably our largest and often unchecked preference. I am going to begin looking at it more closely, asking the questions: why the preference on development? is what we consider to be development really development? if not, then what might be?

Always unfolding.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Active & Passive Surrender

Active surrender is the practice of enlightenment.

Passive surrender, effortless surrender, natural surrender is the embodiment of enlightenment.

Practice freedom, become freedom, be freedom. It's not as hard as you think and is only really as hard as you make it.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Grieving the Loss of Truth

I was speaking with a coaching client a little over a week ago who is deep in the trenches birthing a worldview and potentially an exterior transition. In our conversation I became aware that he was perhaps longing for and grieving the loss of both objective truth and the projection that truth can be a destination to acquire.

I asked him to engage in the ritual over the next few weeks to truly mourn and honor the loss of objective and destination oriented truth.

Each meme has a different relationship with truth. It seems that with each cycle of development in human growth, truth becomes bigger, more intangible, and is more greatly owned as a subjective experience. I can recall when I experienced truth as something that could be acquired. I can also recall when nontruth was something that could be acquired. As if either was the root of fulfillment.

With awakening, there is the loss of objective truth. Truth becomes, always, the experience that is unfolding. What is true is that which is present.

In development, the relationship to truth develops from object to context, from context to subject, and then from subject to construct, and later from construct to mystery.

In both instances, truth is lost. Truth evaporates like the morning dew. This is liberating, typically, and normally celebrated. However, the longing for solidity and understanding runs strong through our human experience.

As truth evaporates from your experience in all of these ways, I highly recommend that you grieve appropriately its loss and the role this construct played in your life. In honoring this, something powerful might occur.

Loka and the Domain of Perception

Loka, a Sanskrit word, meaning world, dimension, plane, abode, and/or place or plane of existence manifests in a complex, dynamic relationship between both subjective (interior) and objective (exterior) spheres. Lokas are generally thought of as domains in the subtle realm that are visited through meditative states, astral travel, and lucid dreaming. This is certainly a piece of it. There are many worlds that exist in the subtle. For example, Swami Muktananda writes that he visited Siddhaloka, the realm of masters, in his process of awakening.

In my experience, the geographical domain of siddhaloka exists in the gross where ever there is a gathering of masters; in the geographical subtle where disembodied masters exist in subtle form (great place to meet Abhinavagupta); and in the subjective loka of enlightened perception: everyone is a master when you are a master.

Such experiences are neat. However, like most things in the column of spiritual neatness, loka is projected into the future as an event that must be acquired for human completeness. This is err.

Loka is both geographical and perceptive.

A loka as a geographical location exists both in the gross (physical), subtle (energetic, thought, dream, intuitive, etc.), casual (potentiality), and non-dual (location as all and the perception of oneness: ekaloka).

Loka as a perceptive experience includes memes (worldviews) and the state experiences of thought and feeling (by the way, each thought and feeling is a state experience). As we know, we interpret the state we experience from the meme (worldview) we're embodying.

In certain terms, our view of the world is the world. In other terms, the relationship between our world view and the world as it is (though we'll really never know how it is) is the world.

The body is a loka. The mind is a loka. The heart is a loka.

Much of our spiritual and development oriented human universe deals with the problems and pains of our humanity, and seeks to correct the ecology of our inner universe. We start wars with ourselves, striving hard to develop, calm the mind, change our patterns, and become something more, for "if I am enlightened or pushing the developmental envelope of the 3rd tier of human experience I would be happy."

It is my assumption that, just perhaps, you're okay. There is a strong current in integral culture that pushes towards development. This is not my assumption or preference. Think twice (or a lot) before you decide to adjust the nature of both your exterior and interior world. We know from the physical world that ecological environments are sensitive and even the slightest interference (with sometimes the best intentions) can cause great destructive change ending in climate chaos and global challenge.

Don't misunderstand, reality in its perfection chooses to develop as perfection. However, the hell-bent-on-development position that most in the integral and spiritual world embrace as the ultimate truth needs to be deeply reconsidered.

For a week, walk around pretending that everything about you, everyone and everything is okay. You can return to your unbalanced (and probably unchecked) bias towards radical development again soon.

[When one thing arises, there also arises paradoxes and polarities. A major paradox here is that there will be the presumption to let go of striving towards personal and spiritual development in order to be more okay. If you are hell bent on development, this is your own self, and your own self, your own loka, is just okay as it is being hell bent on development. Continue to develop, by all means, but please consider your motivations].

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Unification v. Oneness

A state of unification is not awakening. A state of unification is a state unification. It's nice. Everyone likes this, but it's not awakening. Awake people have states of unification, and they have states of difference as well. Both happen; other things happen too.

Don't mistake a state of unification for awakening. Don't seek a state of unification in place of awakening. Awakening is a deep honest and vulnerability with self. Awakening is complete non-resistance to all that arises. Awakening is oneness with all that arises (not unification).

The awake are one with whatever arises. At times, what arises is a reality that appears to be separate. The unawake spiritual person practicing awakening will fear this as a mistake allowing it to be proof of their non-awakeness and inherent deficiency (which keeps them in a place of delusion). The awake are one with reality whether it appears to be separate of unified - as both are an expression of the same.

Monday, May 4, 2009

You + The Universe

[This is not something to be agreed or disagreed with. I am not presenting truth. I am presenting a tool for you to use to make meaning of your reality and experience]

There is an interior and exterior in our experience of ourselves. There are individuals and collectives. In a certain perspective (a useful perspective), these four polarities comprise all experience. The collective is comprised of interior and exterior, as is the individual. This is all helpful, I promise, and gets more interesting towards the end of the post where I curse a lot.

Within these four polarities there is the perception of spheres of movement and stasis.

These movements are development, embodiment, uncovering, and awakening.

Development: Vertical movement. The process of growing, widening perspectives, greater fluidity of with internal experiences, and greater ability to understand and empathize with others. With each emergence into a new stage of being, the universe becomes experientially a bigger place. In the sphere of development, there is development, regression, and stasis.

Embodiment: Lateral movement. Is the flow between experiences at a specific level of development. One can develop capacities, take on new perspectives, play with internal content, and shift in external action without developing or regressing. This is a lateral movement in experience and perception. In the sphere of embodiment, there is movement, ownership, and stasis.

Uncovering: Depth movement. Uncovering is the process of opening reality to peer beneath the surface in increasing layers of depth. Some refer to this as state (of consciousness) development: gross, subtle, casual, and non-dual. The Wilber-Comb's matrix is a lattice that places states along the vertical line of stages allowing for a fuller internal landscape. Terri O'Fallon later improved on this by turning the lattice 45 degrees establishing the perspective that the more anyone was developed in both, the more room in the universe they had to play (it's not all about stage growth and it's not all about state development - it's both). A non-dual state is not enlightenment. The embodiment of non-dual stage is. In the sphere of uncovering, there is stasis (everyone is born into "gross" level of consciousness) and movement.

Awakening: Self-orientation movement. Awakening is moment-to-moment oneness with all that unfolds. In awakening, the identifying center is not the limited, ego-self, but the expanded universal self - it's the experience of perception without an "I" or "me". To be awake does not mean to always be in a non-dual state, so to speak. To be awake is to be one with reality as it's arising, and sometimes it arises as a seperate universe (you can be one with a separate universe and you can be one with a unified universe). From the perspective of the unawake, there is awakening and unawakening. From the persective of the awake, neither and both are true, and rest equally within. Again, there is movement, regression and stasis.

Again, awakening is not necessarily permanent oneness with the non-dual state. It's just a peice. I am always aware and present to the non-dual state; however, it is not always in the forefront of my experience. Right now, I am mainly aware of the gross (with slight awareness of the subtle and casual), and the non-dual rests in the background as the perceptive guiding light.

In the movement of development (stage), embodiment (capacity), uncovering (state), and awakening (enlightenment) there is a universal flux/flow: establishment, death, release, and emergence.

Establishment is a fixed perspective, like the "I/me" prior to awakening. In awakening, there is a profound death of self where all passes away into a complete release from former self. From release there is a re-embodiment towards the affects of the self (ego), but from a completely different orientation.

self --> no-self --> liberated self

The liberated self is what I am discussing as the Passionate Self.

All deaths are painful. Each stage of ego transition is painful. But enlightenment is the greatest pain of all, as it is, in a sense, a permanent death to the attachment to ego structure (a permanent big death followed ad infinitum by little deaths).

Anyone at any stage of development can become enlightened. Someone at an early stage of development will be one with a universe that is fairly small, fixed and limited, whereas one that becomes enlightened at a later stage of development will become one with a much larger, much more expansive universe.

In teaching, I recommend working on all four spheres, with an emphasis on awakening (and not being an asshole). In my experience, the more awake one is the less attached they are to their ego structures and generally more willing to release them. Awakening invites a more rapid ego development process (in the right contexts).

I said this on a call with Marc Gafni the other day and he almost fell over laughing stating, "I totally disagree. I know a lot of enlightened assholes." I agree. There are a lot of enlightened assholes. There's also a lot of unenlightened assholes. There are a lot of assholes everywhere. I am also a big asshole most of the time. As a matter of fact, we're all assholes. You too, dear reader, are probably an asshole. Take a moment and rest in your assholeness. It feels nice, doesn't it? The more you avoid, the more you become.

The observation remains consistent though: awakening, authentic awakening, provides a fluidity within one self that makes stage growth much cleaner and less painful. Note, I did not say that all awake beings will develop, I simply think that it becomes easier. It also requires the right contexts and structures.

This leads me to The Passionate Self, which has been the teaching that the universe has unfolded through me (and many other) the last two years as my own experience. Stay tuned...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Integral Enlightenment

I am writing this blog to share myself. At times, it will seem theoretical and practical, but ultimately, simply it is a narrative of my own unfolding. My journey took me through many doors, filters, perspectives, experiences and communities all of which are present here.


After practicing and studying spiritual and religious traditions* for over twenty years, I experienced a deep emergence into everything. There was a slow yet continuing dissolution of self until there was no longer an experience of personal self. This release invited and facilitated a sense of oneness with all. The universe was comprised of simultaneously many distinct and different things and also the nature of one thing. These two polarities where never in opposition: they existed perfectly, simultaneously, without contradiction.

As this experience unfolded, my functioning self, my ego, was going through a transformation too. I was steeped in the middle of a transition moving from what is called, in developmental psychology and theory, the first tier to the second tier**; in Susan Cook-Greuter’s system, The Action Logics, from individualist to strategist; in Don Beck’s system, Spiral Dynamics, from green to yellow. Since then further transitions have emerged.

A year after my awaking, I was discussing with a friend her experience of suffering. During this dialogue I began to guide her through her interior, much like the journey that occurred for me during my process of awakening, gently revealing to her the various fixed energies and perspectives that kept her in patterns of delusion and suffering. To my interest, she experienced a spontaneous awakening.

Her awakening did not sustain itself, like mine, but it did last a few days. In a conversation of retrospection, she said during those few days she was more comfortable and free than she had ever been. She became my first student, and this led me into teaching. I would give talks, occasionally lead practices, and work with people one-on-one, combining my immediate experience with elements of Direct Path Lineages and Esoteric Hinduism.

Six months into teaching, I began to experience frustration. My teaching did not quite express the fullness of my experience and there were contradictions I could not resolve. After teaching for almost two years, I recognized that I was in another process of change; both a deepening of my awakening and the development of my functional self. At this time, I decided to let teaching go, allowing life’s mystery to continue to unfold.

Shortly after releasing teaching, a long and deep relationship painfully ended. It was simultaneously the worst and best experience of my life. It was through that experience something new and unique emerged: an experience of continuous awakening existing in equal relationship, so to speak, with my developing self. This balance birthed a new self, and importantly was not integration or unification of self with Self, but a product of living ego existing in the space of awake awareness. I am currently calling this expression of self the Passionate Self (Andrew Cohen uses Authentic Self and Marc Gafni uses Unique Self to express something seemingly similar) until I can come up with a better moniker. Passionate Self sounds a bit douchey, I think, but it’s the best I have for now.


This blog will explore three things: development of functional ego stages, the process of awakening, and the emergence of the Passionate Self. I hope it adds value to you by providing context for your triune journey, seeds of future thought and action, and a structure of potent transformation.

I, quite simply, love the conversation. I exist to evoke and share, and to delight in our mutual unfolding.

“Welcome to the Desert of the Real”: Welcome to my experience.

*Ending with esoteric Hinduism through Teacher Sally and Direct Path Enlightenment teachings through Adyashanti. Though I only met Adyashanti once, and spent years with Teacher Sally, this meeting seemed to be the straw that broke my ego’s back, and it was after this, it seems, that my awakening began to unfold. Adyashanti was never aware of my teaching, and Adyashanti never endorsed my teaching. I mention him to honor him and to give some context to the frames I give/gave to the process of awakening.

**This is based on Susan Cook-Greuter’s testing system formerly know as the Leadership Developmental Profile now called Leadership MAP.