Thursday, June 14, 2012

Contemplating integral life practice

From a new IPS thread.

Given the recent posts on the art of living, I offer this preview of the book on ILP by Wilber, Patten, Leonard and Morelli, which is the first 2 chapters. The four core modules are body, mind, spirit and shadow, the idea being to pick at least one practice from each in designing your individual program. The spirit module includes meditation, prayer and integral inquiry (20), among others, with inquiry being a "gold star" practice. It is explained more fully starting on p. 243, not part of the preview. This Google book preview however shows that section.

What they mean by inquiry is "an advanced 1st person practice designed in formless or pure awareness" (243). There are 2 aspects to it, absolute and relative. The former is the meditative practice and the latter advises understanding and dissolving obstructions to the absolute, which can include the shadow process and the AQAL model itself. There are four stages to the inquiry, the last being that when one has attained proficiency in the 3 prior stages of the meditative practice one can then bring that awareness into any activity.

So a few questions arise. The initial stages of the absolute practice is basically about sitting and unwinding. The mid-stages then include relative deconstructive and dissolving practice to get one back to  absolute pure awareness. The last stage is that pure awareness then permeates every other practice, the union of absolute and relative. So in the last stage one can maintain pure awareness in the activity of philosophical or intellectual activity. How would one discern then when one is so doing instead of just engaging in mental obstruction or contraction? As Loy said:

"The point isn’t to have some pure mind, untainted by thought, like a blue, completely empty sky with no clouds. After a while that gets a little boring! Rather, one should be able to engage or play with the thought processes that arise in a creative, non-attached, nondualistic way. To put it in another way, the idea isn’t to get rid of all language, it’s to be free within language, so that one is non-attached to any particular kind of conceptual system, realizing that there are many possible ways of thinking and expressing oneself."

Regarding using deconstructive methods to get one back to a state not attached to any particular conceptual system, recall this post quoting Loy.

"Derrida is not interested in defending any philosophical position of his own but instead is concerned with showing the limits of language and the difficulties we fall into when we overstep them.... Derrida's term to describe the relativity and 'indeterminability' of meaning is différance, and the way différance functions in his philosophy can be compared to how Nagarjuna uses shunyata, or emptiness. Derrida emphasizes that différance does not refer to some specific thing. It is merely a conceptual tool useful for describing how conceptual meaning is never quite settled, but always 'deferred.'"

And hence its practice returns us to emptiness. This is in fact the goal of the practice. Derrida doesn't, as far as I know, start with trying to settle into a pure state of presence, largely due to his critique of the metaphysics of (absolute) presence. Hence there is no pure present awareness, given its inherent infection with the relative. Still, his practice of differance can lead one to an open, non-attached state of awareness.* I know it often does that for me, a state I recognize from years of meditative-martial training.** And a state that is informing this very post. Granted it isn't the same as what eastern meditators do but perhaps a homemorphic equivalence?*** And certainly one with less metaphysical baggage than ILP. At least according to my de/re.

* One of course that is immanent to the core, even its virtual emptiness.

** Another story for another day.

*** The other story in the 2nd footnote indeed finds such equivalence, given my experience in a Chinese martial art originated by Bodhidharma, who brought Buddhist meditation to China along with martial training.


  1. From the "Treatise on T'ai Chi Ch'uan" attributed to Wang Tsung-yueh:*

    "T'ai Chi [Supreme Ultimate] comes from Wu Chi [Formless Void]
    and is the mother of yin and yang.
    In motion T'ai Chi separates;
    in stillness yin and yang fuse and return to Wu Chi."

    And further on:

    "Within yin there is yang.
    Within yang there is yin.
    Yin and yang mutually aid and change each other."


  2. According to this document,* Bodhidharma "believed that physical, intellectual, and spiritual cultivation were an indivisible whole." Hence the Shaolin tradition encompassed an ILP. He also says that "Zhang San Feng graduated from the Shaolin Temple in the 13th Century." The latter** is the reputed originator of t'ai chi ch'uan, "a Neo-Confucian syncretism of Chán Buddhist Shaolin martial arts with his mastery of Taoist Tao Yin (neigong) principles." The linked wiki article also shows the lineage. The Tung family style*** I studied comes through Yang Chengfu and Li I-yu (see family lineage****). I started my study with David Block, a senior student of Tung Kai-Ying, and later studied with Master Tung in LA.


  3. Recall I compared Wilber's consciousness per se (CPS) with Derrida's khora in this thread.* On p. 1 quoting Caputo:

    "Moreover, while it [khora] cannot be perceived by the senses but only by the mind, still it is not an intelligible object of the mind, like the forms. Hence, Plato says it is not a legitimate son of reason but is apprehended by a spurious or corrupted logos, a hybrid or bastard reasoning."

    On p. 2 I discussed the gap in the experience of the present, similar to cessation but not quite. The same gap (ecart or chiasm) is seen in Merleau-Ponty, and how his hyper-dialectic is similar to Caputo's reading of Derrida's reading of Plato's bastard reasoning. I saw it as a homemorphic equivalence (HE) with the emptiness of emptiness doctrine, where the state produced from such de/reconstructive experience is not only empty (of specific content) but is itself empty of absolute essence. Much like Bryant's virtual, immanent to the core.

    I definitely see the HE with ILP's terms above, and with the different methods for apprehending what it calls CPS, and how it integrates absolute and relative in the 4th stage. Just in different interpretative terms, terms more postmetaphysical IMO. Therefore, an integral inquiry-practice. One I recognize from another more metaphysical integral inquiry in tai chi chuan. Again, not the same experience, but certainly an HE experience.


  4. And to tie this to a theurjianism, the practice of rhetaphor!

  5. Theurjianism being the neologism for my own neologisms. At one time antidisestablishmentarianism was the longest word in the English language. It means "opposition to the withdrawal of state support or recognition from an established church, especially the Anglican Church in 19th-century England." I offer this as the new longest word: antidisestablishmentheurjianism. It means withdrawal of support or recognition of theurjianisms from the established and official church of kennilingus.


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