Thanks for the additional help, John, I think I managed to find what you wanted to show me. I was expecting something on fascism here, but saw Andrew Venezia’s presentation on Buddhist meditation practices and enlightenment vis-à-vis intersubjectivity, or what does it mean to be integral?
The question is more relevant than ever considering how things are playing out here IRL. And while I appreciate Andrew’s passion for the subject, I think he may be overlooking the obvious along the way. The bifurcated structure of the presentation itself left me wondering how they really fit together.
But let me make something clear before I proceed. I’m a big fan of meditation and think it is an extremely helpful and powerful tool in the quest for Self and for overcoming self. There’s no doubt about the fact that meditation also contributes to neural rewiring, if you will, making these connections more effective and efficient, even if we are neither our neural networks, our brains or our brains and bodies. Just how embodied consciousness itself must be remains to be determined. I say let’s sally forth down this path.
But, my experience over the years tells me that it is very easy to get the wrong impression listening to talk about certifiable enlightenment and lineages and the like for it itimates that there are (only?) specific and exclusive ways of getting to it. He does reference Jeffrey Martin’s work and you can sign up with him as well and for a couple of grand maybe take an alternative path to well-being or maybe enlightenment as well. But if the goal of meditation is enlightenment, then, as he implies, it’s just another “view” (?.. I think that’s the term he used) and really has little to do with a shift of consciousness an sich. Both approaches however come across to me as very exclusive (if not elitist: you find your personal trainer/guru/coach/wayshower or you put your not unsubstantial cash on the table and you’re in). I am aware that I am unfairly oversimplifying, but the shift in consciousness of which Gebser speaks is unrestricted by means or method. It is a possibility confronting humankind at this point in history and it is a possibility, at least to my mind, that is much more far-reaching than any individual’s personal enlightenment. It will only happen if some critical mass of us “get it”, and it is the fewest of us who are going to drop what we’re doing go pursue it or enroll in a part-time program to get there. I’m happy for all who find enlightenment in these ways, but I also expect of those who did so to roll up their sleeves and assist the rest of humanity to make the shift. The cynic in me says, of course, that ain’t going to happen, for the most common pattern that the cynic sees is that the enlightened one can now sit back and wait for the “proper” seekers to show up and take it from there. I don’t know why the enlightened don’t get more proactive and find 10 worthy candidates and help them see the light. I am aware of all the reasons given for why that’s not the case, but it is for those very reasons that any similarities between enlightenment and integral consciousness are minimal at best.
On the other hand, what he had to say about intersubjectivity had more substance to it. Engaging others, the other, the Other … dealing, wrestling, adjusting, reflecting, in real-time, in real life seems to me to be much more appropriate and relevant to the matter at hand. This is necessary and needed. One of the side-effects of the Enlightenment (the historical epoch) is the concretization of the individual, rugged or otherwise, and the Ego. And this is what we need to overcome, supersede, or transcend (or, more likely, all-of-the-above). Georg Feuerstein says that “the human being is a multidimensional process that can fulfill itself only by transcending itself.” [Structures of Consciousness, 163] And Gebser himself makes perfectly clear that it’s a knock-down, drag-out, struggle; it’s the most difficult of all human tasks:
All work, the genuine work which we must achieve, is that which is most difficult and painful: the work on ourselves. If we do not freely take upon ourselves this pre-acceptance of the pain and torment, they will be visited upon us in otherwise necessary individual and universal collapse. [EPO, 532]
So much for feel-good well-being à la Gebser. It’s not easy dealing with others, but as is so often the case, the only way out of the dilemma is through. Andrew certainly encourages this, but he pulls up short of reminding us what a challenge it is going to be. He intimates, and I would say, Life is the praxis.