Integral thinkers draw inspiration from the work of Sri Aurobindo, Don Beck, Jean Gebser, Robert Kegan, Ken Wilber, and others. Some individuals affiliated with integral spirituality have claimed that there exists a loosely-defined "Integral movement". Others, however, have disagreed. Whatever its status as a "movement", there are a variety of religious organizations, think tanks, conferences, workshops, and publications in the
and internationally that use the term integral. US
Background and historical figures
The adjective integral was first used in a spiritual context by Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950) from 1914 onward to describe his own spiritual teachings, which he referred to as Purna (Skt: "Full") Yoga. It appeared inThe Synthesis of Yoga, a book that first published in serial form in the journal Arya and was revised several times since.. Sri Aurobindo's work has been described as Integral Vedanta, andpsychology, as well as the Integral Psychology (the term coined by Indra Sen) and Psychotherapy that emerges from it.. His writings influenced others who used the term "integral" in more philosophical or psychological contexts.
As described by Sri Aurobindo and his co-worker The Mother (1878–1973), this spiritual teaching involves an integral divine transformation of the entire being, rather than the liberation of only a single faculty such as the intellect or the emotions or the body. According to Sri Aurobindo,
(T)he Divine is in his essence infinite and his manifestation too is multitudinously infinite. If that is so, it is not likely that our true integral perfection in being and in nature can come by one kind of realisation alone; it must combine many different strands of divine experience. It cannot be reached by the exclusive pursuit of a single line of identity till that is raised to its absolute; it must harmonise many aspects of the Infinite. An integral consciousness with a multiform dynamic experience is essential for the complete transformation of our nature. — Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, p. 114
Important themes include: Evolution, Involution, the Integral psychology, Integral yoga, and the Supramental principle. Major works include: The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, and Savitri. The Mother continued Sri Aurobindo's work of Integral and spiritual transformation after his passing, and founded Auroville, an international community dedicated to human unity, and based on their teachings.
At the same time that Sri Aurobindo was developing Integral yoga, Pitirim Sorokin (1889–1968), a Russian-born Harvard sociologist who advocated a cyclic view of history, began referring to the emergence of a future, spiritually-based integral society which will replace the current "sensate" society. Writing at the same time as Sri Aurobindo, but independently, he began using phrases like "integral philosophy" and "integralist".
It has also recently been noted that Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) an Austrian spiritual scientist, educator, and esotericist who founded Anthroposophy, Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophical medicine, and Eurythmy, used the term integral in a similar way to Sri Aurobindo and Gebser very early on, by 1906 comparing "integral evolution" with "Darwinian evolution." Jennifer Gidley points to Steiner’s earliest use of the term integral, in reference to integral evolution in a lecture in
on the Paris 26 May 1906.
The grandeur of Darwinian thought is not disputed, but it does not explain the integral evolution of man… So it is with all purely physical explanations, which do not recognise the spiritual essence of man's being. [Italics added]
The word integral was independently suggested by Jean Gebser (1905–1973), a Swiss phenomenologist and interdisciplinary scholar, in 1939 to describe his own intuition regarding the next state of human consciousness. Gebser was the author of The Ever-Present Origin, which describes human history as a series of mutations in consciousness. he only afterwards discovered the similarity between his own ideas and those of Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard de Chardin .
The idea of "Integral Psychology" was first developed in the 1940s and 50s by Indra Sen (1903–1994) a psychologist, author, educator, and devotee of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. He was the first to coin the term "Integral psychology" to describe the psychological observations he found in Sri Aurobindo's writings (which he contrasted with those of Western Psychology), and developed themes of "Integral Culture" and "Integral Man".
Although these basic ideas were first articulated in the early twentieth century, the movement originates with the California Institute of Integral Studies founded in 1968 by Haridas Chaudhuri (1913–1975), a Bengali philosopher and academic. Chaudhuri had been a correspondent of Sri Aurobindo, who developed his own perspective and philosophy. He established the California Institute of Integral Studies (originally the California Institute of Asian Studies), in 1968 in San Francisco (it became an independent organisation in 1974), and presented his own form of Integral psychology in the early 1970s.
Again independently, in Spiral Dynamics, Don Beck and Chris Cowan use the term integral for a developmental stage which sequentially follows the pluralistic stage. The essential characteristic of this stage is that it continues the inclusive nature of the pluralistic mentality, yet extends this inclusiveness to those outside of the pluralistic mentality. In doing so, it accepts the ideas of development and hierarchy, which the pluralistic mentality finds difficult. Other ideas of Beck and Cowan include the "first tier" and "second tier", which refer to major periods of human development.
In late 1990s and 2000 Ken Wilber, who was influenced by both Aurobindo and Gebser, among many others, adopted the term Integral to refer to the latest revision of his own integral philosophy, which he called Integral Theory . He also established the Integral Institute as a think-tank for further development of these ideas. In his book Integral Psychology, Wilber lists a number of pioneers of the integral approach, post hoc. These include Goethe, Schelling, Hegel, Gustav Fechner, William James, Rudolf Steiner, Alfred North Whitehead, James Mark Baldwin, Jürgen Habermas, Sri Aurobindo, and Abraham Maslow..
The adjective Integral has also been applied to Spiral Dynamics, chiefly the version taught by Don Beck, who fora while collaborated with Wilber.
In the Wilber movement "Integral" when capitalized is given a further definition, being made synonymous with Wilber's AQAL Integral theory,whereas "Integral Studies" refers to the broader field including the range of integral thinkers such as Jean Gebser, Sri Aurobindo, Ken Wilber, and Ervin Laszlo.
Integral psychology Main article: Integral psychology
Integral psychology is psychology that presents an all-encompassing holistic rather than an exclusivist or reductive approach. It includes both lower, ordinary, and spiritual or transcendent states of consciousness. It originally is based on the Yoga psychology of Sri Aurobindo. Other important writers in the field of Integral Psychology are Indra Sen, Haridas Chaudhuri, Ken Wilber, and Brant Cortright. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia