Integral Thinking: Consciousness and the Cosmos

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As a very young child I had a fascination with the ‘being’ of all thoughts and things and the apparent endlessness of everything. It was a topic that I spent hours pondering on in silence from around the age of 4. For reasons I can’t explain I have always held a belief in the interconnectedness of everything and that a God, consciousness, or some kind of creator had, from no beginning somehow manifested everything including itself. All comments/ arguments for or against the below would be most welcome…

I was recently emailed an article on Integral Thinking, the sender knew that that this topic would interest me from the consciousness perspective. The article references Ken Wilber, a contemporary philosopher, author and teacher who is  credited (or self credited) with popularizing the field of Integral Thought, a synthesis of the world’s psychological, philosophical, spiritual and scientific thinking into a unified theory of consciousness.

I recently listened to 12 hours of Kosmic Consciousness Interviews through the night flying home from Asia since I was not in the mood for sleeping… Wilber puts forward his idea which categorises psychological and cultural and spiritual development into a hierarchical structure which he compares to the structure of matter. On the DVDs he said something along the lines of: ‘One must attain the lower levels before the higher levels because the higher levels are constituted by the lower level components’ While this may over objectify things and look a bit like the business worlds ‘Balanced Scorecard’ (Yawn!) but reconstructed for Spiritual and Psychological subjects the logic is sound. My problem is that when it comes to Consciousness, this effectively puts the ‘creator’ at the bottom of the hierarchy, i.e. the ground is less important than the tree. It is not that I think that the ground is more important than the tree it is that I see them as ‘simultaneously’ important, and although this may seem the ‘incorrect’ word to use I am attempting to convey the idea of the importance of symbiosis between the two while removing the concept of time. The potential for the tree exists in the ground simultaneously to the actual tree and the potential for new earth always exists within the tree, representing the oneness of everything in consciousness that realizes and re-realizes itself in a timeless and endless cycle.

I also refer to Shamanism here and later to the Physicist David Bohm. The word “Shaman” means “one who knows” and is believed to be the origin of every traditional spiritual practice and religion and can be traced back to the Stone Age. Putting aside Magical thinking Shamanism is the original Integral theory and teaches that everything is alive and has a spirit, that means humans, animals, trees plants, earth and rocks, and that we are joined with earth and life via our interconnectedness. Physicists may describe a field of energy that connects all of life. Shamanism teaches that a web of life connects everything. As a person who has experienced out of body states (OBE) and auras of energy flowing around everything in early childhood, this practice has always made a lot of sense to me along with the some of the theories within Quantum Mechanics mentioned below.

Since the earth on which we stand, and our selves are made of vibrating atoms and molecules which consist of particles all interacting with each other by creating and destroying other particles it makes sense to me that the intelligence behind this electromagnetic relationship is conscious and not at a basic second class level. My belief is that this is an intelligent system where each part amplifies information via what physics calls the quantum wave. Not only does every piece of matter appear to exchange information by coming into awareness by observation, in the case of earth or vegetation or water it also gives life to sentient beings such as ourselves while also generating some form of energy. Every aspect of nature appears to me to evolve intelligently in symbiosis with every other aspect within this universal and interconnected consciousness superstructure, this includes all types of being and matter as well as mind, which by its intent can evolve physical reality and infinitely expand itself. Today this also includes the stream of consciousness coming from social media including blogs (like this one) which enable the virtual connection of consciousness. This is not the artificial consciousness being discussed by neuroscientists, it is human consciousness being spread and realized more efficiently by machine. This ability to more rapidly bring information into the superstructure must surely for better or worse accelerate the realisation of the intent of the overall consciousness system? Good examples of intent spread and later realised by the stream of consciousness coming from social media and the rapidity at which this can occur were The Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, along with the The Occupy movement which used the slogan ‘We are the 99%’

This overall interconnectedness is something that Tom Campbell captures perfectly in his My Big Toe Trilogy which is truly integral and written with wisdom, sincerity and humility. Also Douglas Harding who graciously references Ken Wilber when he had written about the concept himself far earlier and David Bohm on whom I believe Wilbers work is mostly based.

Referenced in the article is Christof Koch a world renowned neuroscientist who wrote In Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist (MIT Press, 2012), Koch puts forward the following:

‘The universe is constituted by a hierarchy of integrated systems that not only have an exterior but an interior as well. The universe is conscious—that is, has some measure of experience or interiority–all the way down’

By far my favourite essay on this subject is from the work of David Bohm (1917 – 1992) an American-British Quantum physicist. Extracts from the essay below:

Within Bohm’s Implicate Order everything is connected; and in theory, any individual element could reveal information about every other element in the universe. The *hologram* is Bohm’s favourite metaphor for conveying this structure.

Bohm’s view on consciousness: The individual is in total contact with the Implicate Order and is the “focus for something beyond mankind.” Using the analogy of the transformation of the atom ultimately into a power and chain reaction, Bohm believes that the individual who uses inner energy and intelligence can transform mankind. Bohm goes on to suggest that an intense heightening of individuals who have shaken off the “pollution of the ages” (wrong worldviews that propagate ignorance), who come into close and trusting relationship with one another, can begin to generate the immense power needed to ignite the whole consciousness of the world. In the depths of the Implicate Order, there is a “consciousness, deep down–of the whole of mankind.”

Bohm also talks of “Holiness” having existed since the foundation of the cosmos. It is present in the cyclical process of the universe. It is pure, active intelligence from which all that is manifest in the cosmos comes. It acts through inwardness in consciousness. It enfolds information into the many levels of consciousness, into all of life. It is the Implicate Order which is the Ground of All Existence.

The full essay can be located here: