Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Vol. 7 No. 1 Jun 2011

Special Issue Introduction

Bahman A.K. Shirazi

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Integral Education: Founding Vision and Principles

Bahman A.K. Shirazi

Abstract: This introductory article gives a brief account of the founding vision and ontological and epistemological principles of the integral framework expounded by Haridas Chaudhuri and some of his original collaborators at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). A brief biographical account of Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mirra Alfassa, originators of integral yoga and education, is provided and some of the principle tenets of an integral worldview that informs the philosophy of integral education are discussed.

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CIIS and American Higher Education

Joseph L. Subbiondo

Abstract: In this article a brief history of the California Institute of Integral Studies and its predecessor institution, the American Academy of Asian Studies is discussed, and several key founding figures of both institutions are introduced. It is argued that the role these unique institutions of higher learning have played have been crucial, initially in the cultural life of San Francisco Bay Area and the social and cultural movements it inspired, and currently in the context of the role that an integral, whole-person oriented education plays in higher education.

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Evolving Dimensions of Integral Education

Judie Gaffin Wexler

Abstract: This article explores the concept of integral education as a way to prepare students for the complex, rapidly changing global environment in which they will be living and working. It contends that education must help students focus both internally and externally if they are to be effectively prepared. The experience of the California Institute of Integral Studies is used as a case study to discuss key dimensions of integral education.

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Trans-Dance: Disciplinary Cross-Dressing and Integral Education in a Language and Sexuality Course

Matthew C. Bronson

Abstract: This article showcases an integral approach to education through the lens of a transdisciplinary graduate-level class on Sexuality and Language. The graduate-level class was co-taught by two CIIS faculty whose backgrounds span the fields of social and cultural anthropology, psychology, sociology, social policy, linguistics, education and drama-centered expressive arts therapy. The class brought together students from six separate academic programs and drew from a wide array of performative and arts-based modes of inquiry to create a deep context through which to unpack the complex relationship(s) between language and sexuality. These practices were interwoven with theoretical exposition and discussion in a hermeneutic spiral leading up to students’ planned research projects. This “disciplinary cross-dressing,” where diverse students and faculty engaged each others’ points of view rigorously in a common inquiry, created powerful teachable moments and served as the foundation for a transgressive mode of scholarship and advocacy.

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Becoming World Becoming: Embodied Practice in Psychology and Education

Ian J. Grand

Abstract: In the Integral philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and Haridas Chaudhuri, consciousness and knowing do not suffice. What is crucial is actual participation in the making of the world. Beyond transcendence, there is a creative emergence in historical time of new possibilities of being and becoming. When we meditate, or act in the world, or engage in other kinds of spiritual practices, we directly, concretely, change the ground of our being. We are changed in our bodies and we are changed in our interactions in the world. There is a creative spiral: changes in breath, changes in activity, become changes in consciousness. How we interact, do work, have feeling, changes us, as does our reflection upon them. The conditions, practices and tools of the historical era in which we live shape us as we shape them. What becomes important in practice is to learn tools and perspectives that expand our ability to participate in the making of the world.

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Daring to Step into the Open: Moving Beyond Perspectives in Education and Life

Kaisa Puhakka

Abstract: Evolution in all spheres—cosmos, culture, and consciousness—is explored as a dynamic, creative process of shifting and settling, where shifting breaks out of existing structures and conceptual moorings and settling solidifies the movement of evolution into structures. Both are seen as essential aspects of the evolutionary process, but a bias for settling is noted among living creatures. For humans in particular, shifting arouses anxiety whereas settling promises security. The correction of this bias in the educational process to help realign human consciousness and culture with the rest of nature and cosmos is explored. Such a realignment may be necessary for meeting the unprecedented challenges of our world today, and an open, perspective-free inquiry can serve as a vehicle for it. But this inquiry calls for a new way of relating to the inherent uncertainty of shifting and to the anxiety this arouses in teachers and students alike.

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Connecting Thought and Action for Beginners: A Meditation on Integral Philosophy and Experiments in the Yoga of Love, Action, Knowledge

Maureen Dolan

Abstract: This paper has a two-fold purpose: to examine some of the main precepts in chosen works of Sri Aurobindo and Dr. Haridas Chaudhuri regarding the philosophical basis for integral understanding and to describe concrete ways to introduce the integral paradigm into practice in the U.S. within a particular undergraduate course titled Body, Mind, Spirit: Yoga and Meditation at DePaul University in Chicago. The introduction includes a brief description of the cultural milieu of 21st century American realities for adult students, identifying some of the conditions which can serve as impetuses to integral thought and action. The main text contains certain basic tenets of integral wisdom, which combine Eastern and Western thought in revolutionary ways, and examples from an introduction of integral yoga into higher education for adult learners. This can serve those who are just beginning to explore integral being and evolutionary action through intellectual, psychological, physical, and spiritual pursuits and those who already teach the integration of love-action-knowledge.

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Integral Intelligence: A 21st Century Necessity

Anne Adams

Abstract: This article explores the critical role education plays in the attitudes, behaviors, results produced, and ultimately our every day experiences of our world. Integral education is introduced as a catalyst for transformation, moving our emphasis in education from gathering knowledge to growing consciousness. Expanding awareness provides a paradigm shift from epistemology to ontology, which would fundamentally alter where our attention is focused, from having and doing to being—providing an opening to directly experience ourselves as the creators of our reality.

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Teachings From the Deep South: North-South Contributions to Integral Education

Adrian Villasenor-Galarza

Abstract: The present paper addresses the need to incorporate often ignored perspectives and formulations derived from what I refer to as the “deep south” into the field of integral education as currently practiced at the California Institute of Integra Studies (CIIS), in San Francisco, CA. The deep south, or the metaphorical conglomerate of wisdom ascribed to the global south and associated epistemologies, is used as a broad framework from which I propose, through the exploration of shamanic practices and symbols, the creation of an organizing vertical metaphor, a North–South axis of dialogue. I start with a brief exposition of the one of the main challenges that integral education faces, a cognicentric focus, and proceed to explore alternatives to it by addressing some repressed aspects of the field, the notion of multidimensionality, and the symbol of the axis mundi. The paper ends with an invitation for a marriage to take place between the East–West and North–South axes of knowing and learning as an adequate and necessary development for integral education.

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No Ontological Leaps: A Primer on Scientific Materialism

Christian de Quincey

Abstract: When the issue is intelligence in nature, arguments about whether science supports neo-Darwinian theory or intelligent design miss the point. The details of evolution or the structure of the brain are irrelevant because biology and neuroscience have nothing to say about consciousness. Science informs us only about the physical world. However, consciousness/mind/intelligence is non-physical, and no amount of evolution or complexity of purely physical processes could ever produce anything non-physical. There are no ontological jumps. You don’t get something from nothing—or, more precisely, you don’t get “no-thing” from anything. How, then, do we account for the fact that consciousness exists in an otherwise physical universe? It all comes down to our basic metaphysical beliefs.

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The Union of Spirit and Matter: Science, Consciousness, and a Life Divine

Lynda Lester

Abstract: The once unbridgeable chasm between spirit and matter is closing. While the scientific method and scientific materialism have brought untold benefits to humanity, quantum physics has changed our view of matter as solid, objective, and obvious to a view that is more complex and which includes the possibility that consciousness has a part in manifesting reality. This shift mirrors Sri Aurobindo’s integral philosophy, which states that the universe is a manifestation of consciousness. This manifestation occurs through a process of involution followed by evolution, the next step of which is the emergence of a suprahumanity whose native state of consciousness will be supramental. Interestingly, some of Mother Mirra Alfassa’s experiences in bringing supramental consciousness into her body bear similarities to the discoveries of quantum physics. Unlike previous spiritual realizations, the supramental realization has the power to unify spirit and matter and usher in a life divine on earth.

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