About Integral

What means ‘integral’?

Imagine you are looking through this window which has four panes of glass. If you look through each one of the panes, you see just 25% of the reality beyond the window. Through each of the four panes, you see only part of reality. Sometimes, we view life in an extremely self-centered way (one pane). Other times we view it through the lens of our community, family and circles of trust (another pane). There are times when the main perspective is  through our facts, results and deeds (a third), or through our pattern of life, meaning of life, system or process of life. ‘Integral’ means to view it through all the 4 panes simultaneously.

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Ken Wilber is the greatest philosopher of our times. His works were published worldwide, and the integral theory which he continues to develop is constantly evaluated as… well, integral.

‘What if we took literally everything that all the various cultures have to tell us about human potential – about spiritual growth, psychological growth, social growth – and put it all on the table? What if we attempted, based on extensive cross-cultural study, to use all of the world’s great traditions to create a composite map, a comprehensive map, an all-inclusive or integral map that included the best elements from all of them?’

—Ken Wilber, The Integral Vision, Shambhala Publications, Inc. –

What’s the use in thinking the integral way?

When Wilber was no more than 23 years old, he theorized the AQAL. Now we have this concept and may operate with it. AQAL stands for ‘all quadrants all levels’, but equally connotes ‘all lines’, ‘all states’ and ‘all types’. An account or theory is said to be AQAL, and thus integral, if it accounts for or makes reference to all four quadrants and four major levels in Wilber’s quadrants, described below.

Wilber states that those who are able to see reality through all four panes are the stress-free and blessed ones. But the vast majority act (one pane) based on what others say (another pane). Only a few are really able to extract a complete meaning and understanding of their lives from the perspective upon all the artifacts they created (one pane), while others are extremely self-centered (one pane).

How can you be creative when you see business life only through one or two panes. The four panes are just a metaphor for the integrality of nature, as nature may be understood only by looking at it integrally. Otherwise, we just continue to disregard environmental issues or our impact on our environment or the impact of the environment on us and so on (as we see only parts of the full spectrum).

What is the ‘integral theory of innovation’?

Creativity and innovation are integral, as they are part of nature, which is integral. You have no chance to produce the greatest ideas if you disregard the integral soil of creativity. The entire AQAL system is a lot more complicated, but for our endeavor it is enough to say that creativity is integral. How come?

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Some people view creativity as a single man’s talent, genius or perseverance (Upper Left Quadrant). Others view creativity as existing only in creative things (innovations) or as the tools to be creative (Upper Right Quadrant). There are also people who view creativity as sparking from the exchange of ideas among people (Lower Left Quadrant); and lastly, some view creativity as a process (Lower Right Quadrant). But creativity is all these views put together. If we can put them all on the table, we can have a complete definition and working process of creativity.

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None of the four quadrants is independent of the others. On the contrary: they are all linked by what Steven Johnson called the ‘possible adjacent’. The ‘possible adjacent’ expresses a certain limited space of possibilities arising from what currently ‘is’ in all the four quadrants of an individual. There is a limited space for creative possibilities around one individual, predetermined by his current state, current way of behaving, current material resources, collective and culture, and organisational system.

Conclusion

In all, ‘integral creativity/ innovation theory’ is the most modern, naturally adapted and efficient theory on the topic. It ‘contains’ all the existing theories under one umbrella. And is not just a theory but a working platform for leading innovation programs in corporations or within state institutions.

 

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