Cosmos Café: A Radical Conversation with Terry Patten, author of A New Republic of the Heart [5/15]

(Marco V Morelli) #1

Unedited recording:


In the Introduction to his new book, A New Republic of the Heart—a book about how awakened and concerned human beings can meaningfully respond to the interconnected social, ecological, and spiritual crises of our global situation—our guest for this week’s Café, Terry Patten, writes:


In this pivotal moment of truth for our species, a whole wave of radical conversations is inevitable. For these conversations to really make a difference, we must break through our personas and our inauthentic poses. This is a deeper level of discourse than has hitherto seemed thinkable in public—disarming, tender, and authentic. To my knowledge, we have never had such public conversations. Any such conversation requires an extraordinary degree of intelligence, freedom, clarity, and intimacy— and perhaps it can only take place in a moment of supreme urgency like this one. But now the stakes for humankind are our collective fate—a life-and-death choice. As Samuel Johnson noted, “Nothing clarifies a man’s mind so much as the knowledge that he shall be hanged in the morning.”

And so this Café will be an attempt to actually have one of the radical conversations that Terry is calling for and is attempting to enact through his book. Arguably, the Café crew has already been practicing these kinds of public conversations. Morever, as students of consciousness, culture, history, and psychology, drawn to various kinds of knowledge and ways of knowing, our crew has been hard at play weaving together multiple perspectives on our contemporary reality. But how do we understand the larger crisis Patten is pointing to—and are we rising to the evolutionary occasion? Can our small group of thoughtful, committed citizens actually make a difference in the trajectory of the world? And what would that look like if we do?

Please join us for this special event with one of the elder statesmen of the contemporary ‘integral’ movement and global community, as well as an early Cosmos beta member and vocal supporter. (See Terry’s endorsement of Cosmos Co-op in Chapter 8 of the book!) Share you thoughts and questions ahead of the event by commenting below.


New Republic of the Heart Excerpt-Patten-CCoop.pdf – Introduction and Chapter 1 (recommended), Chapters 2 and 3 (optional, encouraged if time allows)

Publisher’s Overview

A vision to address our environment, economy, politics, culture, and to catalyze the radical whole-system change we need now

Recasting current problems as emergent opportunities, Terry Patten offers creative responses, practices, and conscious conversations for tackling the profound inner and outer work we must do to build an integral future. In practical and personal terms, he discusses how we can all become active agents of a transformation of human civilization and why that is necessary to our continued survival. Patten’s narrative focuses on two aspects of existence–our dynamic but fractured and threatened world, and our underlying wholeness and unity. Only by honoring both of these realities simultaneously can we make sustainable changes in ourselves, our communities, our body politic, and our planetary life-support system. A New Republic of the Heart provides a comprehensive understanding and inspiring vision for “being the change” in a way that can address the most intractable problems of our time. Patten shows how we can come together in our communities for conversations that matter and describes new communities, enterprises, and forms of dialogue that integrate both inner personal growth work with outer awareness, activism, and service.

Purchase the book via | B& | North Atlantic Books

Also see…

This talk is open to the whole Infinite Conversations community, but if you have not attended a previous Café, please RSVP and introduce yourself below.

Cosmos Café: Communicating About Communication [5/22]
(john davis) #2

I like Terry Patten and went to his talks in Manhattan a decade ago. He is a very kind man. I hope that you guys can do more with Terry than just shoot the breeze. I am probably not going to be there, as I have other tasks to take care of, but I am glad to see that someone at the Cafe, has decided to drive the bus.

It might be interesting if Terry and Marco could talk about their alternate histories with Integral movement and where they converge or diverge in the current cultural confusions. I found Terry to be on the Wilber bandwagon pretty much and with some confidence that Neo-liberalism in the form that Obama was promoting was moving towards an Integral Age. I wonder if he believes that Now?

Of course most of the Integral organizations started to fall apart due to scandals which no one except Marco seems to have learned from. Maybe Patten is going in a somewhere different direction in the last decade? I wonder what he has learned in the last decade about the theory of everything? Gidley I would assume would not be impressed by a one size fits all future. Please be mindful of her critique of Wilber as you read Terry. I think there could be some interesting comparative meta-stabilization, happening.

I recently saw an Interview with WIlber and it appears he hasn’t learned much. He looks more and more like an old dog who cant learn any new tricks. I was so bored with hearing the same old thing I had to turn it off about half way. Marco said that Wilber was trying to capitalize upon Integral. I wonder if Marco and Terry could develop a dialogue. Good luck!

(Mark Jabbour) #3

This should be fun, depending on your definition of fun. I started reading Patten’s book. and, I’ll behave. I will miss your @johnnydavis54 participation.

(Heather Fester) #4

Glad to learn about this and to find the attached sample above. I’ll read that happily and have been curious to take a peak at the book. I saw Terry talk about this book in Boulder (drove there for it and for time with friends). I’d love to take part in the follow up conversation, but I have a work obligation from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. MT that day. That means I’ll at least miss the first hour of the call. I then have an appointment with a student at 2:15. It would seem it’s not likely I can be there for it, but I am interested in the topic. If there are follow-up sessions, please keep me in the loop.

(Heather Fester) #5

Can someone (maybe @madrush) link to Terry’s article on rhetoric here? I looked on his website and didn’t find it with a content search (or quick browse of blogs). Thank you!

(Marco V Morelli) #6

Here it is, Heather. This paper was presented at the 2013 Integral Theory Conference. Its title is, “Enacting an Integral Revolution: How Can We Have Truly Radical Conversations in a Time of Global Crisis?”

ITC2013.Patten.pdf (348.4 KB)

(Mark Jabbour) #7

And so … as is my wont I looked at (checked/researched) the author and this is informative. (see the link below) I can hardly wait - but 2 hrs will not be enough. And I’ll behave.

(Mark Jabbour) #8

Just asking … if @madrush and I were to shave our heads - would we be taken more seriously? Or, conversely, if we wrapped our head in a bandana?

(Mark Jabbour) #9

Never mind. AI is not = human being. @madrush

(Mark Jabbour) #10

As @achronon eluded to (and others), in our previous @ccafe, it depends … or said another way:
“That which is old is new again”.

(Mark Jabbour) #11

Oh wait …

(Geoffrey Edwards) #12

So, I listened to about 30 minutes of this and turned it off. Now I remember why I abandoned The Theory of Everything. I hope I am not ruffling feathers here, but, based on the 30 minutes I listened to here and what I read, I am not impressed. I want to run the other way! Have I missed something here?

On the other hand, I do have a better sense of what he means by “Integral”, and maybe, the beginnings of the idea about what other ideas about what “integral” might mean that differs from that. However, and I’d love someone to explain it to me, it sounds to me like this “Integral” (Wilber’s version) is another form of spiritual fragmentation - it is focused on the so-called Eastern Religious ideas about awakening, but there are other forms of awakening that don’t seem to be addressed here (except that they involve less “truth” than these claims - which is partly why this feels like another kind of fragmentation). I have problems which Christian-style “integralism” (its sense of having a “complete world view”) but I also have problems with this Eastern-style “integralism” (which also claims a “complete world view”, albeit a different one). I don’t like any version of a “complete world view” - Sloterdijk’s, Wilber’s, Augustine’s, whatever.

Terry Patten on the other hand, seems like a more more humble person, exhibiting much less the sense of entitlement I hear in Wilber, and I find myself much readier to listen and to give him the benefit of the doubt in areas where I might disagree. But I also hear that he is in the shadow of Wilber’s ideas, although he modulates this in ways that I, personally, find more interesting. That said, I won’t have time to read his work before Tuesday and am not sure I can come to the session anyway, but I will keep an eye on this and look to find time to delve into his book.

(Mark Jabbour) #13

And so … just trying to connect some dots:

(john davis) #14

Nor do I, Geoffrey, as I find “compete world view” too easily slips into premature cognitive ejaculations. It is an adolescent male craving for closure that is the main driver of these “completed world views”. But in fairness to Wilber, when he is at his best, he would probably admit we all have partial views. He is not probably at his best in this video.

I have a big problem with fusing perceptual and perspectival as much of the Wilberians seemed to do. They had no where to go but up, up and away into ever more arid abstractions. Top heavy cognition dominated and relational dynamics were not honored. Marco, who has written about this, has initiated a different direction and a much needed correction to the excessive cognitive overkill.

I was much less interested in theories of everything and much more interested in modeling and making minor gestures and dealing with the particulars of an occasion. This is to rely on a more feminine/queer embodied touch orientation. I found this frowned upon by the peacocks that were often on display. Too much of the scandals of the Wilberians revolved around male spiritual teachers exploiting female students in a rather boring rehash of cult dynamics that have dominated us sense the Stone Age.

I did find some kindness and connection among individuals and Terry had I felt some integrity unlike some of his collegues in the leadership. An Integral Age may happen if we blow the dust off of some of these theories and meta-theories and focus more attention on what Bateson called the “patterns that connect”.

Bateson, as I recall, was dismissed by Wilber. Unfortunately, Wilber had a tendency to label and dismiss a lot of people and use the language of contempt. This style seemed to be a trend that many of his followers adopted.

I do believe, however, that a reconstructive phase could start to happen if we paid attention to the relational and somatic intelligence that stabilize mental structures. Gebser, Steiner and Sri Aurobindo are the ones who may have done the most useful work in this regard.

Today, I found in a used bookstore, a book by Aurobindo, The Future Poetry . I imagine this deep dive into his poetics is where the action is!

(Mark Jabbour) #15

Ahhh - the “loneliest road”, my wish is: that you all could experience, in real life (US hwy 50 across the western US from NoCal to western Colorado, and/or something “similar”), as well as, in addition to, the interior lonely life - which, I suppose, most everyone does. There is nothing like/similar/same as, being alone in the wild !. … One has to be there. (ok, is a cityscape similar to the wilderness?) And then, only, does one begin to undertake the questions: what/who am I? where am I? and, what I ought to do, next?

(Ed Mahood) #16

As I am wont to say, “you are where you are whenever you are” and that’s what you have to start with. There is no doubt that being “alone in the wild” can provide you with a vital experience that gets you questioning, but are you screwed if you don’t have the wherewithal to get into the wild? I don’t think so. Your questions are precisely the ones that need to be answered no matter where you are physically.

Furthermore, I agree wholeheartedly with @johnnydavis54 and @Geoffrey_Edwards: “complete worldviews” are suspect. They presuppose that you’ve seen everything, so I would simply beg to differ with anyone who advocates one or implies s/he has t-h-e view. The word “view” implies perspective, though many authors have tried to circumvent this with some kind of “view from nowhere”. Nice try, but I don’t think that does it. A “view” is visual (even abstractly) and it plays to a single sense: vision; yet, we have five senses and every one is every bit as valuable as any other. If there is such a thing, a phenomenon, if you will, as the “integral”, it would have to be, almost by definition, whole in all regards, polysensorial, at least, all the time, even if one or the other, for very real and practical reasons, may have center stage at any moment in our life’s drama.

And, yes, I share your and @johnnydavis54’s and @Geoffrey_Edwards’ skepticism of the quasi-equation of “the integral” with “Eastern spiritual enlightenment”. Truth be told, I have a problem with equating the integral with any kind of enlightenment. That’s what gets me about both techno-singularity types and most folks who want to pass for integral as well (say, à la Wilber). There is an implicit, underlying, unspoken assumption – at least as I see it — that either technology and/or our own individual-and-collective enlightenment /integrality is going to suddenly make us all happy and suffering is going to go away, that we are all going to become morally forthright and that all our problems are going to end. No one says that specifically, don’t get me wrong, rather it is the intensity of the optimism that betrays the assumption.

If you ask me (and I know no one did, but that won’t stop me from answering my own question – out loud – if need be), all humanity can “achieve” (certainly the wrong word) integral consciousness tomorrow and most of us wouldn’t know it. We’d still be suffering in our own individual, familial, “tribal”, and other collective ways; we are fragile human beings who are subject to all the frailties that such entails. We’re not going to be suddenly different organisms from the five-sensed, five-appendaged, upright locomoting, biological creatures that we’ve been for the past couple of hundred-thousand years. Sickness doesn’t go away, terminal illnesses don’t go away, natural catastrophes don’t go away, human-induced tragedies don’t go away, interpersonal conflict doesn’t go away.

“If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him,” goes the old Zen saying. A wise person said that. Buddha didn’t relieve suffering in the world, he didn’t make it go away, he told us we need to rethink and re-feel how we deal with it (perhaps as in "get your head and heart working in unison). Christ’s story is the most barbaric of all, but he didn’t make suffering go away, he told us we need to rethink and re-feel how we deal with it (perhaps as in change your head and heart modus (metanoiete) and “love your neighbor as yourself”). Lao-Tzu was particularly wise, in my book, in that he more or less said flat out that suffering isn’t going anywhere and we would do well to rethink and re-feel how we deal with it. But instead of listening to what they all are telling us, we recast them as idols, literally, even though a good chunk of our western mythology, say, as contained in the Old Testament is unequivocally clear on what happens to idol-worshippers: they suffer, and mostly by their own hand. We make the beds we never want to sleep in.

In the end, all we’re actually left with is our own selves and the only person in the world that any of us could possibly change is ourselves. Some folks on the planet are trying and some aren’t. And for those who are trying, I can only offer my most heartfelt encouragement, even if I might think they’re heading down a dead-end road. I can express my doubts, but it’s up to them to decide. And sometimes I’m wrong, not them, and then it is incumbent upon me to give some more thought and feeling to whether that road (or approach or whatever) might be helpful in my own circumstances. We can learn a lot from others even if we think that what they think is wrong. The proof of all puddings is in the eating.

But none of that reflects in any way on whether Terry has something worthwhile to talk about on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to it because it is another opportunity to interact and share with others who are perhaps in a similar state of being but who have very different experience to share. And, I think we’d all be lugheads if we didn’t have questions in our minds before reading the text or coming to the café. I mean, what a new “republic”? That makes me think of Plato’s “old” (or classic or traditional" republic which fills me with ambiguity. And, what’s a “radical conversation”? Radical in a Macdonaldian or in a Habermasian sense (just to arbitrarily pick a couple of options out of the hat)? Or is this another of example of the-more-things-change-the-more-they-stay-the-same (whereby the intent of that statement is simply the belief that the really new is really rare)? I’m hoping to find out on Tuesday.

And, no, I have no more pithy sayings (or “old wives’ wisdom” as they are considered in some places) for today. :roll_eyes:

(john davis) #17

I make a statement about the Wilberians-

Ed adds another distinction that compliments what I was trying to make explicit. I find his observation is a good match with my own.Ed’s statement also has a Gebserian feel to it.

Gidley stressed the differences and similarites between Wilber, Gebser and Steiner and when we add Sri Aurobindo to the mix we have a much richer field. Wilber abstracts more and more from less and less and calls what he is doing Integral. I think Wilber is a smart guy and has some brilliant insights but is handicapped by some unfortunate tendencies to a cognitive bias and authoritarianism.

WIlber engages a scientific bias and puts a lot of emphasis on logic. He prefers the use of the visual system which dominates the kinesthetic, auditory and proprioceptive. His voice, posture and gestures indicate a cerebral emphasis. He praises Kant and Piaget ( a cognitivist if ever there was one) and downplays the relational. This shows up in the wobbly nature of his relationships in general. I would say the superior tone is a cover up for the fragile and isolated cognitive mental structure he is most comfortable with.

Individual Enlightenment is a MYTH! I noticed this " I am enlightened "mythology was wide spread among the members of his organization and Wilber was Big Brother to a lot of young men who adopted a leadership style that is centered in the Mental (mostly deficient ) structure. They seemed to have a strong 3rd person orientation ( levels, lines, quadrants, color codes, etc.) but very weak 1st person accounts. There was a lot of dissociation talking head stuff going on. Those who were dealing with complex and ambiguous areas of personal experience were dismissed as messed up postmodern types.

The authoritarian tone I worry is still very present in the interview with Jeff Saltzman and is softened somewhat by Terry Patten. The condescension on display though is a chilling reminder of how much work needs to be done to move past the arrested development of the leader who invites in group/out group divisiveness. I don’t think a revolution would be a good idea if it is led by this group. The idea that anyone is at a certain level and that they are going to help others catch up to the second and third tier from which they are ensconced strikes me as a basic Neo-liberal stance. It is a bad metaphor and it leads to bad results and comes out of the modern structure not the integral. Each of us can perform at different levels without claiming that we have arrived in a fixed level. We are performers juggling many plates spinning at the same time. Attention is required, speed and relaxation, sensitivity to periphery and center. The Integral is an Art with a capital A!

We need more models and more meta models and more playful metaphors. I have seen no new models come out of this group for the last twenty years. I do hope that by studying Sri Aurobindo and Gebser that more models and modeling projects would start to emerge. That is what I am dedicated to and sense that some of us are entering the weave of a different kind of tapestry. I find this more interesting than Wilber’s elevator to the third tier.

(Terry Patten) #18

Hi Cosmos folks,

I’m looking forward to joining you Tuesday, and I just read through this thread. Thanks to all who jumped in. I’m a little surprised that so much of the discourse here has focused on the pitfalls of Wilberian Integral, but it’s true that it was in the context of an international integral community, and in partnership with Wilber that I began teaching. But at this point, it’s not at all the point for me.

The central message of my new book is “it’s time. Now. What does that mean for us? For you? How do we show up authentically now?” Recognizing that, when we view things from an evolutionary perspective, we see we’re living at an inflection point or tipping point, one in which the future will be nothing like the past. Whether it is this year or next or even the next decade, this is a time of disruptive change (in a way that is in some respects similar to many previous moments, but in crucial ways radically new).

But our nervous systems aren’t built to grok that, or to respond to it adequately. And yet our collective futures depend on being humble and curious and open enough to venture beyond the very ways we know how to talk with each other.

So I want to join you for a conversation — not a debate, for sure. I hope it will be a shared inquiry. I don’t have answers as much as really good questions. And if you read into the excerpts, I bet you can join me for a deep and interesting exploration of what time it is on the planet and in our hearts.

(john davis) #19

I agree with this statement and once again express appreciation for your appearances at NY Integral where you showed excellent people skills. I hope a positive intention can be sensed behind my mostly critical remarks here but I could easily find much to praise in those stormy early days when many had very high expectations. I am glad you are making an appearance at the Cafe and hope you will feel at home.

(Geoffrey Edwards) #20

I heartily agree with your comments here, Terry, and am sorry that I probably won’t be able to attend - I have a busy week in my “day job” (as prof at a university). I didn’t mean to imply I’m not interested, but I am behind everyone else in terms of understanding what this whole “Integral” thing is, hence my preoccupation with making sense with what seems to be a rather complex “beastie”. I shall happily turn away from that focus, however, and perhaps, even if I can’t participate in the Cafe on Tuesday, once I hear the recording, I will be able to post some ideas and we can exchange via that means instead.