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Using vertical development to move down 2010-Sep-05 at 21:37 PDT

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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In the Integral world, we’re all familiar with some scheme of developmental psychology… whether it’s Spiral Dynamics, the Leadership Development Framework, Dynamic Skill Theory, we’ve all seen one or more of them.

Typically, when one learns about these hierarchical schemes of development (and/or gets introduced to Integral), one does two things fairly quickly:  first, one looks at the scheme, tries to figure out where on it one fits, and then looks at the levels of development above that to see where one’s growth might be heading; second, one starts to project out onto everything whatever levels of development those objects or concepts or people might represent.  Quickly, we populate our world with what seems like a significant improvement over our old, confusing, flatland view of everything.  Now, everything has its level and its place, and we situate ourselves in the middle of all of that new labeling and order.

And I’m not trying to denigrate that move at all.  It’s quite natural for that to be the first thing that we do when we “get it” about developmental psychology.  And when I say “first thing” I’m not talking about something that lasts for a day or two.  This seems to be a stage that many of us pass through as we enter Integral, and it lasts for years.  And I’m really glad that it does; it’s a more developed position than the (pathological) post-modern view that holds all hierarchies as bad.

Of course, even new and more highly developed positions have their limitations and their shadows, and sometimes those shadows hold beautiful opportunities, and that’s what I’m interested in here.

One idea I’ve been playing with lately is the importance of using vertical developmental sequences not just as scaffolding for our own (or for our collective) growth up, but also to use them to grow down, as tools to re-inhabit those levels within ourselves that we’ve disowned.  For instance (using Spiral Dynamics as our scheme-of-the-moment) many people in the Integral movement have, to one extent or another, disowned their inner Blue and Orange tendencies, and that disowning runs deep.

Don’t believe me?  Let’s go right to an extreme case, then.  Just ask anyone you know who is familiar with Integral this one question: Can you love President George W. Bush?

So many people I saw at the Integral Theory Conference last month still walk around with deep, visceral hatred for President Bush, for instance, and expressed it quite publicly, and it saddened me.  I have to ask… is that really the most healthy relationship one can have with BLUE/Orange?  Are you capable of expressing appreciation for President Bush, and for some of the decisions he made?  Or is it all anger and disappointment and hatred?  Even he wasn’t capable of 100% error, right?

[Ed. note: this is not about having a political debate.  It’s about looking at our relationship to levels of development that we may have disowned and therefore are no longer able to access – you know, transcend and include, not transcend and disown.]

I’d suggest that there’s a way that we can open ourselves up to a more loving perspective about those parts of ourselves that we’ve disowned.  If we do, we can have a relationship with those who are currently living through those levels that we’ve disowned.  We can meet them where they are, with love, and see them – truly see them – and through the simple act of seeing them deeply and being present with them, we can hold the invitation to continued growth, not from a place of “you have to” but from a place of “you’re loved exactly as you are, and even more is possible.”

And if we don’t?  Well, if we don’t, then everything we do and say about people who live through the levels that we’ve disowned comes from one place: our own projections.  If you’re not truly in a relationship with someone – if you’re not treating them and feeling them as their own subject, worthy of respect and all of the Universe’s love – then you’re just projecting your own limitations onto them.

And I have to ask all of you in the Integral world: have you disowned your Orange?  Have you disowned your Blue?  Have you disowned your Green?  Are you ready to fix that now?

And how do we re-own them, to be more complete, to be able to take the view from love with everyone we meet?

I suspect that as the years go by, we’ll come up with more than just a few ways to remedy this particular developmental pathology, but I know one method for this that’s pretty fool-proof and easy to do: the UZAZU Vertical Practice.  Using the sound / breath / movement combinations of UZAZU, the Vertical Practice can walk you through a felt experience of each of the levels of development in Spiral Dynamics, all within 30 minutes, leading up to a deep experience of Oneness.  By doing this practice regularly, you give your body the experience of occupying those levels that you’ve disowned (as well as the ones that you’re comfortable with), and you get the felt sense of how they build on each other, and that they’re all a part of your own birthright as a human being.

Whether you choose to use UZAZU for this, or some other practice, I consider it to be absolutely vital for Integral action-in-the-world that we relate to all people wherever they are on the grand spirals of development, and with as much love – and as little projection – as we can muster.  You know as well as I do that you can’t get there from projection.  We all want to grow up… and let’s all grow down, too.


The importance of a developmental view of our enemies 2010-May-17 at 11:09 PDT

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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Combat Generation: Trying to work with an Afghan insurgent, by Greg Jaffe, 17-May-2010

The offer came from an insurgent known as Mullah Sadiq, who had been on the U.S. kill-capture list since 2005. [Lt. Col. Robert B.] Brown assumed that some fighters aligned with Sadiq had taken part in the assault.

Sadiq wanted 50 assault rifles, $20,000 and a promise that U.S. forces would not kill him. In return, he promised to turn against more-radical Taliban insurgents and to begin to work with the Afghan government.

Sadiq’s proposition gave Brown a chance, however tentative, to achieve a victory of sorts in his corner of Afghanistan and redeem the loss of his men.

"This has the potential to work," Brown told his commander.

This is the kind of creative thinking and perspective-shifting that our troops are faced with every day in Iraq and Afghanistan, and everywhere else we’ll deploy the SysAdmin force.  Those who are considered enemies can be, in these messy and shifting situations, our allies, and all for far less than the cost of having a single soldier in theater.  The fact that our Lt. Col. Brown warmed to this proposal, even from a first-tier or flatland perspective on development, is a powerful testament to his own openness and creativity, and makes me incredibly happy that he’s on our side.

Imagine how many more commanders would be able to make this leap if they knew a little bit about vertical development?  What if we trained our military leaders with the basics of Integral philosophy?  What if they had at least heard of the idea of Spiral Dynamics or developmental psychology?

All of this is coming, I promise.  The military is incredibly fast to adopt useful ideas and run with them.  And with that will come a smoother, more predictable and repeatable SysAdmin process wherever it’s required.