Presenting Integral Consciousness

We are the picture of the reflection of our imagination; we are as large or as small as we think ourselves. — Sufi Inayat Khan (1996) Bowl of Saki, April 14[1]

Here we are in an academic context presenting on integral consciousness. This is an interesting challenge given that the academy is dominated by the mental consciousness, as is the modern world. Perhaps what we are presenting here is an aspect of post-modernity?

The challenge is that integral consciousness, especially in the form proposed by the cultural philosopher, Jean Gebser (1985), in his classic The Ever-Present Origins, is much more expansive than the mental consciousness allows, especially given its ‘deficient’ form of rational consciousness that has plagued modernity. As the philosopher Peter Russell (2000) says:

The global crisis now facing us is, at its root, a crisis of consciousness. The essence of any crisis, whether it be a personal crisis, a political crisis, or, as in this case, a global crisis, is that the old way of functioning is no longer working. Something new is being called for. In this case the old way that is no longer working is our mode of consciousness. [2]

Gebser calls this a ‘deficient cause’, a term he adopts from the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle. Through his extensive and profound study of human cultural history and travels to several European countries as well as India, where he met Sri Aurobindo, one of the major explorers of consciousness of the 20th century, Gebser proposed a number of structures of consciousness (which I’ve summarized in the table below).

Many people in the Anglo/American world think of Ken Wilber (2007) in association with integral consciousness. Indeed he has popularized the term and this has led to all sorts of revolutions in thinking about how we see ourselves and how we relate to the world around us. Wilber actually was inspired by Gebser and then developed his own understanding of integral consciousness. Steve McIntosh (2007) has developed Wilber’s ideas even further in his text, Integral Consciousness and The Future of Evolution, by drawing on a wide field of philosophers who resonate with visionaries like Barbara Marx Hubbard, who was the inspiration of the recent Byron Bay Uplift Festival 2012[3], which celebrated and explored a co-creative evolutionary consciousness in relation to the Mayan Prophecy of 21/12/2012. Hubbard is involved in the World Shift 2012, a movement initiated by the scientist and futures researcher Ervin Laszlo (2008, 2009). In a very comprehensive collection of interviews by Stephan Martin (2010) Hubbard states that ‘as we began to become aware that the universe is evolving we also began to see that we are part of that universal process of evolution’ (p.191).

So what we are presenting today in this workshop at this Social Ecology Symposium, which is at the place of origin of the Australian version of social ecology, is an experience of integral consciousness as we have each come to see it. Given that consciousness itself is an area of great contention, this is a most ambitious project. However as each of the presenters have been involved in the area of social ecology, both formally and informally for some time, we are committed to the process of advancing the research into this most enlightening of areas.

My own formal connection with integral consciousness came as a result of my research for my doctorate in social ecology on anti-racism through drama education that led to a theory of an ecology of culture. This led Ian Mills an Australian philosopher, who had also been a lecturer in social ecology, to suggest that I read Jean Gebser’s work, which I did and later presented some Dances of Universal Peace[4] at a conference on Jean Gebser at Latrobe University organized by Bernie Neville, the head of the Education Faculty at Latrobe at the time and also one of my examiners for my PhD.

Table 1. Structures of Consciousness – Jean Gebser / *Steve McIntosh

Structure Operation Function Egoity Form Rationality
Post-Integral * Enlightened Meditation   Formless  
Integral Transparency Intuition Ego-free Transparency A-rational
Mental Abstraction Thinking Ego-centric Duality Rational
Mythic Imagination Feeling Ego-less Polarity Irrational
Magical Emotion Sensing Ego-less Unity Pre-rational
Archaic Instinct Instinctive   Identity Originary


Table 2. Structures of Consciousness – Ben-Zion Weiss

Structure Chakra Element Dominant Period
Cosmic Crown Consciousness  
Post-Integral 3rd Eye Light  
Integral Throat Ether 2012+
Mental Heart Air 1500- 2012
Mythic Navel Fire 10 000 BP- 1500
Magical Sexual Water 70 000-10 000 BP
Archaic Base Earth 200 000-70 000 BP
      BP = Before Present



Feuerstein, G., 1987, Structures of Consciousness, Lower Lake Cal: Integral Pub

Gebser, J.,1985, The Ever-Present Origins, Athens: Ohio Uni Press

Lachman, G., 2003, A Secret History of Consciousness, Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne

Laszlo, E., 2008, Quantum Shift in the Global Brain, Vermont: Inner Traditions

                 2009, World Shift 2012, Vermont: Inner Traditions

McIntosh, S., 2007, Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution, St. Paul: Paragon House

Martin, S., 2010, Cosmic Conversations, Franklin Lakes,NJ: New Page

Russell, 2000, From Science to God, Pre-Publication Edition

Wilber, K., 2007, the Integral Vision, Boston: Shambhala

Dr Ben-Zion Weiss 2013 ©


[1] Hazrat Inayat Khan, 1996, The Bowl of Saki, Thoughts for Daily Contemplation, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass

[2] accessed 15/4/2013

[3] accessed 15/4/2013

[4] 15/4/2013

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