Sex, God, and Integral International Development

Today I share with you a 17 minute video that was recorded at a recent Integral Institute conference, where Gail Hochachka, co-director of Integral Without Borders, shares about her work in integral international development and sustainability – “work that is actively reducing suffering, enriching lives, and bringing integral solutions to the parts of the world that need them the most, in places as diverse as Peru, Nigeria, and El Salvador.”  Gail finds this work to be both “sexy” and “godly” Her heart for this work springs ultimately from her own spiritual practice.

This is an inspiring video, and demonstrates how Integral theory and philosophy helps inform and make more effective the work that she does, working toward a world of enduring health.  There is a small amount of Integral jargon, when she talks about “Amber,” “Orange,” and “Green” waves of development. If you need a little primer on that, continue reading below the video.

A short primer on Integral levels or waves of development, borrowed from Sean Esbjorn-Hargens

“Integral theory uses the notion of general altitude as a content-free way of comparing and contrasting development across different domains either within or between quadrants. This is akin to using a thermometer to gauge temperature in a variety of settings—a centigrade thermometer works at the equator just as well as in the arctic, and as a result allows us to compare the weather in those distant places in a meaningful way. Integral theory uses the colors of the rainbow to represent each distinct level (e.g., red, amber, orange, green, teal, turquoise). This spectrum of color also represents the general movement of a widening identity: from “me” (egocentric) to “my group” (ethnocentric) to “my country” (sociocentric) to “all of us” (worldcentric) to “all beings” (planetcentric) to finally “all of reality” (Kosmoscentric) (see Fig. 6)…Integral theory also uses the image of concentric circles … to highlight the nested quality of levels transcending and including each other (see Fig. 6).”


Figure 6. Widening identity (left) and the nested quality of levels as they transcend and include each other (right).

The inclusion of levels in an integral approach is valuable because it recognizes the many potential layers of development within any domain of reality. Practitioners gain valuable traction by aiming their efforts at the appropriate scale and thereby finding the key leverage point—like an acupuncturist hitting the right spot for optimal health and well-being. This conserves energy and resources and focuses efforts optimally. For example, imagine working with a group of teachers on developing a new mission statement for their educational program. Clearly, working with the realities of the LL quadrant will be paramount—articulating shared vision and meaning, exploring via dialogue various phrases that might be used in the document, and so on. But you are going to be more effective in facilitating this collaborative process if you have a sense of the levels of shared meaning that are operative in this group and what they are trying to communicate in their statement. Are they operating primarily out of modern values, postmodern values, or a combination of both? Knowing this will greatly inform your capacity to serve their effort.”

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One comment on “Sex, God, and Integral International Development

  1. […] See also Sex, God, and Integral International Development […]

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