An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

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Peter CollinsPeter Collins is from Ireland. He retired recently from lecturing in Economics at the Dublin Institute of Technology. Over the past 50 years he has become increasingly convinced that a truly seismic shift in understanding with respect to Mathematics and its related sciences is now urgently required in our culture. In this context, these present articles convey a brief summary of some of his recent findings with respect to the utterly unexpected nature of the number system.

Integrating Structures and States

Part Two

Peter Collins

The discussion now continues by placing (primary) structures and states in a more refined interactive context. From one perspective they are related to both stages of self and reality and from another the most intimate psychophysical interactions of the body/mind. A summary of the 12 major levels is then given demonstrating the true complementary nature of structures and states for all stages (which is fundamentally mathematical in integral terms).

Stages of Self and Reality

The (vertical) aspect of states and structures bears an important - though very subtle - relationship with the (horizontal) aspect of stages as self and reality and also with the psychophysical (diagonal) aspect of stages as - simultaneously - body and mind. So we will say a little here regarding these other aspects with a view to understanding the nature of their mutually interacting nature.

Stages of self (or selfhood) and of reality essentially operate heterarchically throughout development. [1] Thus at each level we can initially identify - in dualistic terms - an interior (psychological) aspect as the stage of self and also an opposite exterior (physical) aspect as the corresponding stage of reality.

Stages of self and stages of reality are likewise associated with both states and structures (that are appropriate to the level in question).

In other words if we take a (differentiated) middle level to illustrate, the psychological stage of (interior) self will operate unambiguously, with both the waking state and rational structure of this level (understood in conscious terms). This means in effect that the waking state is neutral with respect to its corresponding structure. Therefore at this level the dynamic interaction of state and structure is effectively reduced to the interpretation of mere structure (as phenomenal form). In like manner at this middle level, the physical aspect of (exterior) reality again operates unambiguously through the interaction of state and structure (with once again a reduced interpretation with respect to the structure of form prevailing). So for example the scientific interpretation of physical reality (which typifies the middle levels) is based - merely - on the structures of form corresponding to that level.

Though we can identify therefore at each of the middle levels unique (waking) states and (rational) structures with respect to both the interior and exterior aspects of reality, interpretation at this level is reduced to mere rational structures of form.

This is an extremely important point. Because (explicit) understanding here is largely abstracted from the unconscious, dynamic access to all the other levels of the Spectrum can become greatly restricted when interpretation takes place in this manner. This perhaps helps to explain why in our culture experience tends to plateau so much at the middle levels!

Though - in a qualified sense - stages (as self) and stages (as reality) can equally be identified for all other levels of the Spectrum, they operate here in a much more dynamic manner with conscious and unconscious interacting to a considerable extent. Once again the "lower" levels are identified with the confused and the "higher" with the mature interaction of both aspects respectively.

To illustrate this important point, let us look more closely at the first of the "higher" levels i.e. H1 (psychic/subtle).

The initial requirement is clear recognition of the paradox associated with any unambiguous attempt to distinguish Left-Hand (interior) from Right-Hand (exterior) quadrants. At the middle levels it might seem justifiable to identify stages of self with the interior (Left-Hand) quadrants. However because in dynamic terms, the psychological and physical aspects necessarily interact in two-way fashion, this means that every (interior) psychological has a corresponding (exterior) physical expression; Likewise in reverse manner every (exterior) physical aspect has an interior (psychological) expression. Thus for example - though in Wilberian terms - we would identify observed (exterior) physical objects as Right-Hand, the associated mental perceptions and concepts would be (interior) Left-Hand. Therefore since our experience of the world - even in the most rigorous scientific terms - necessarily entails both mental constructs and sense data (in dynamic interaction with each other), then (exterior) physical reality can be given equally valid opposite interpretations with respect to both Right-Hand and Left-Hand quadrants. Likewise (interior) psychological reality can be given two equally valid opposite interpretations with respect to both Left-Hand and Right-Hand quadrants.

Thus Ken Wilber's unambiguous type identification of his quadrants e.g. interior reality as Left-Hand and exterior as Right-Hand respectively, is quite fallacious from a genuine integral perspective. Indeed the very starting point - in intellectual terms - in the movement towards true integral appreciation is the clear recognition that any such dualistic labelling system is inherently paradoxical in dynamic interactive terms.

Thus when we begin to properly appreciate the truly interdependent nature of stages of self and stages of reality (in terms of each other) then we are better enabled to make the qualitative transition to pure nondual spiritual awareness (where both of these aspects are reconciled). However dualistic habits die slowly. So the full conversion to nondual awareness cannot realistically occur at H1. This stage is thereby marked with a significant increase in contemplative spiritual awareness that interacts with understanding that can remain somewhat rigid in dualistic terms. However with growing appreciation of the inherently paradoxical nature of all structural forms, such dualistic attachment is thereby gradually eroded.

Put another way, at H1 the understanding of the stage (in terms of self and of reality) becomes increasingly relative (with both aspects understood as interdependent).

The conflicts that remain to be resolved can be better seen through looking at this level in terms of its own unique interaction of structure and state.

H1 is characterised by a special form of spiritual illumination, which can be referred to as the mature dream state. Formerly one identified reality with the somewhat unambiguous interpretations of the middle levels. However as one is now led - through increasing nondual awareness - to see the inherent contradictions associated with such dualistic understanding, rigid "reality" gradually dissolves to be replaced by an illusionary dream (with no absolute nature).

Likewise the structures associated with H1 are now dynamically bi-directional based on the complementarity of horizontal (exterior/interior) poles. However insofar as we still attempt to grasp the nature of this relationship (as identifiable form) dualistic attachment is necessarily involved.

Because such attachment still remains to a degree, a certain divide can exist with respect to experience of both the (primary) state and (primary) structure associated with the stage.

On the one hand (in terms of its characteristic state) one can identify too strongly with emptiness as the nondual spiritual dream state associated with the level. However equally from the perspective of its corresponding structure one can unduly identify with paradoxical forms through subtle attachment to the new dynamic phenomena that arise. So a conflict can develop as between the emerging nondual state (as emptiness) and remaining dualistic attachment to structure (as form).

The deeper reason for this problem is as follows. As we have seen the middle levels are defined in terms of the conscious identification of opposite poles (as unambiguously separate). Now because H1 starts from such conscious understanding, one essentially attempts to achieve their nondual reconciliation in conscious terms. This means in effect that the spiritual role of the unconscious cannot yet be properly coordinated.

In other words, though a more refined appreciation of both structure and state emerges at H1 with a transforming interaction continually taking place, one is not able to fully reconcile both aspects (due to lack of sufficient spiritual development with respect to the unconscious). H1 often culminates with a severe "dark night" spiritual crisis that can be associated with pathological features of depression. This is due I believe to a prolonged refined rational attempt to achieve spiritual transcendence (without sufficient regard for instinctive factors relating to the unconscious). In other words a significant degree of emotional repression can result.

The following stage i.e. H2 (causal) then attempts to address this issue. Because a firm nondual spiritual centre has now been established (associated with considerable erosion of dual conscious experience) the unconscious is free to gradually project itself indirectly into consciousness (in "imaginary" fashion). With attention now focussed directly on this pure development of the spiritual unconscious a deep sleep state emerges (that is associated with remarkably little conscious involvement in affairs).[ 2]

In primary structural terms we now have the unfolding of virtual phenomena (as the indirect expression of the unconscious). [3] This growing freedom from dualistic involvement (of either a direct or indirect kind) enables in turn a much freer interaction in vertical terms as between "higher" and "lower" (and "lower" and "higher") stages that can now be properly understood as truly complementary with each. Thus both top-down and bottom-up integration takes place in an increasingly balanced fashion. Because rigid attachment both with respect to the deep-sleep state and corresponding paradoxical virtual structures has been considerably eroded, structure and state can thereby interact - in vertical terms - in a more flexible refined manner.

In like manner also in heterarchical terms, both structure and state with respect to the stages of self and stages of reality of the causal level can also interact in a much more refined manner (where phenomena now retain little permanency). [4]

However even here at H2 a problem can exist in that the vertical interaction as between "higher" and "lower" (and lower" and "higher") stages - that is mediated in turn through the refined interaction of structures and states - is likely to remain somewhat one-sided as one finds it initially easier to integrate in two-way fashion "higher" and "lower" stages with respect to the same horizontal aspect (i.e. interior or exterior). [5] In other words at the causal level of H2, a degree of sequential separation still exists as between heterarchical and hierarchical understanding that inhibits the pure attainment of nondual awareness. So the final stage of "higher" integration i.e. H3 (nondual) entails the simultaneous reconciliation of understanding both within and between levels (i.e. heterarchy and hierarchy) which I refer to as mature development with respect to the diagonal polarities. Thus with the full integration of both heterarchy and hierarchy, the very notion of a level loses any distinct meaning (indicating the arrival at pure nondual contemplative awareness).

Stages as Body/Mind (Psychophysical Interactions)

So far we have seen that the levels of development can be fundamentally defined in horizontal (heterarchical) terms with respect to stages of self and reality. Also the levels can be defined in vertical (hierarchical) terms with respect to (primary) structures and states. Finally the levels can be most completely defined in diagonal (i.e. simultaneous heterarchical and hierarchical) terms with respect to the dynamic psychophysical (body/mind) interactions of the human organism.

Again we have seen how heterarchical integration of development is defined in terms of the attempted reconciliation of self and reality (which are psychological and physical with respect to each other). Hierarchical integration is then defined in terms of the attempted reconciliation - through refined appreciation of structures and states of levels - that are "higher" and "lower" (and "lower" and "higher") with respect to each other. When we combine these two aspects, we reconcile the "higher" level spiritual understanding of one level (in psychological terms) with the corresponding "lower" level physical understanding of the other, which ultimately represents the top-down integration of the Spirit with the Body. However we equally reconcile the "lower" level (with respect to the physical aspect) with the "higher" level (with respect to the psychological aspect) representing - in reverse terms - bottom-up integration of the Body with the Spirit. [6] Thus attempted integration at this time takes place with respect to diagonally opposite quadrants which is the most difficult of all to achieve (requiring the continual simultaneous switching of reference frames in both heterarchical and hierarchical terms).[7]

Not surprisingly therefore, though the confused interactions of the body/mind represents the first stage of "lower" development i.e. L3 (archaic) where neither aspect is yet differentiated from each other, the final stage of "higher" development i.e. H3 (nondual) represents the corresponding mature psychophysical integration of the body/mind (where both aspects are now fully integrated through Spirit).

Therefore looked at in diagonal terms - where both heterarchical and hierarchical interaction with respect to physical and psychological aspects takes place - every level of development is characterised by a unique psychophysical interaction (intimately entailing body and mind) that is appropriate in terms of the experience of the stage. [8] .

However it is vitally important in this context to properly appreciate the truly dynamic nature of these "bodies".

Not surprisingly therefore special difficulty with respect to the "bodies" can be experienced whenever a major transition - especially at the "higher" stages - takes place. Thus for example failure to achieve proper adjustment can frequently lead to the emergence of significant temporary problems of a psychosomatic nature.

A typical characteristic of the mystical type personality is an unusual degree of sensitivity with respect to both these psychological and physical changes, which is greatly accentuated through the process of spiritual development. Thus failure to properly read the signals with respect to either aspect can lead to an unexpected crisis.

Indeed I believe that this point is more generally applicable to all development as a great deal of illness in our society is now of a psychosomatic nature and cannot be fully cured until its nature is properly understood.

Of course one has to be very careful regarding the making of generalisations with respect to the spiritual journey. Some I believe are especially prone to physical symptoms whenever any maladjustment takes place; others are unusually sensitive in psychological terms to such adjustment. Also one may at a certain stage prove especially sensitive to physical symptoms while at another the psychological may be more prevalent and indeed frequently one will perhaps remain sensitive to the symptoms of both (though in varying degrees depending on the stage of development).

Perhaps in this context I can offer one possible explanation for the increasing occurrence of vaguely defined medical conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and ME. Occasionally people who are clearly very gifted and already have achieved a great deal (in conventional terms) are suddenly hit by the onset a mysterious condition closely resembling these illnesses.

In many cases I would interpret this as an unconscious invitation - through the body -to begin the transition to a "higher" more contemplative stage of development. As we know, the price that has to be paid in terms of authentic spiritual development is a significant detachment from worldly phenomena. However because of customary life style, a "successful" person - while unconsciously desiring a "higher" experience of Spirit - may find it very difficult to withdraw sufficiently from active involvement. Therefore the necessary withdrawal may literally be forced on the person through the debilitating symptoms reminiscent of chronic fatigue syndrome. Thus in some cases - though certainly not all - the true cause of these symptoms is primarily of a spiritual nature. The hopeful aspect therefore is that genuine recovery is possible when one properly understands the real nature of the problem thereby willingly making the psychological adjustments that the "higher" stage of development requires.

Thus given sufficient psychological adjustment a new energetic "body" can emerge that is appropriate in terms of the more spiritual way of life experienced.

Paradoxically the opposite problem of gravely distressing psychological symptoms can be experienced when one proves especially willing to take on the ascetic practices associated with contemplative development. For example the considerable trial of the "dark night of the soul" - though ultimately of a profound spiritual nature - can be associated with a pathological depressive element. This in turn can result from a prolonged disciplined attempt to achieve spiritual transcendence that unfortunately eventually leads to considerable repression of basic physical instincts. Thus recovery at this stage is greatly facilitated through proper recognition of such depressive elements - not as an integral part of the spiritual process but rather - as a valuable warning signal that a decisive change in one's direction of development is required. Then when one accepts that equal attention must be given to body and Spirit (requiring a counterbalancing immanent approach to development) a "new" body is acquired as healing takes place in spiritual and psychological terms.

I will just mention one more interesting point in this context.

As we have seen in general terms, development at H1 (psychic/subtle) is largely concerned with integration of heterarchical polarities (stages of self and stages of reality). Development at H2 (causal) is then largely devoted to corresponding integration of hierarchical polarities (requiring the reconciliation of states and structures). Finally at H3 (nondual) development is concerned with the most intimate psychophysical integration (of body and mind) combining both heterarchy and hierarchy in a balanced manner. As it is quite typical - though not universal - for development with respect to the transcendent direction to become initially more developed than the immanent this would mean entail that one may become unusually sensitive to direct physiological manifestations of any remaining imbalance at this time.

In other words, remaining developmental problems may be directly manifested through distressing physical symptoms. Indeed an eventual crisis, where one's physical life is endangered, may be necessary before the "body" achieves sufficient integration to enable movement on to the radial stages.


One crucially important area that is often greatly neglected in the treatment of spiritual development relates to the role of memory. When we reflect on it we perhaps realise that the attachments - that can prove such a barrier to authentic spiritual progress - are inevitably contained in electrochemical fashion in memory. With respect to dualistic type understanding, memory contents are stored in a local fashion resembling the hard disk of a computer. Therefore as knowledge, skills etc accumulate in memory the mind tends to get overloaded. Thus a great deal of stress and anxiety can be associated with the attempt to secure these memory contents (that literally store recognition of all we have achieved in life). Not surprisingly a great loss in creative energy can also be experienced.

Given sufficient spiritual development however, the nature of memory changes considerably. Indeed the sudden onset of contemplative awareness can be experienced as if one had been internally struck by lightning. In the aftermath of such episodes a significant temporary loss in memory may be suffered. However from an enlightened spiritual perspective such forgetfulness is very welcome. For only when the "old" person - with accompanying dualistic habits and knowledge - is truly forgotten that the new person - with a life centred fully on Spirit - can emerge.

Thus the sudden onset of spiritual awareness causes considerable electrochemical changes greatly refining the manner in which local memory storage takes place. Also a significant increase in the holistic capacity of the mind can occur through such contemplation that improves the physical wiring of the brain through the creation of many new synapse connections. Thus the psychological changes taking place through development are associated with corresponding neurobiological processes enabling a considerable change in the manner in which memory works.

Thus literally, through appropriate electrical activity in the brain induced by contemplation, local memory contents (with their corresponding attachments) are gradually eroded. Likewise the holistic creative activity of the brain is greatly enhanced. Thus memory for the spiritually advanced person works in a transparent manner where contents can be easily stored (with very little chemical "space" required). Likewise because considerable freedom from attachment is achieved such a person tends to live in the continual present moment. When phenomenal facts or skills are required which serve the spiritual purpose they can be readily accessed and then easily forgotten when no longer required. So the mind is now free to operate in a truly creative manner with phenomena only arising when they serve a temporary relative need dictated by central spiritual intent.

Thus let us sum up this section.

The "higher" stages entail the gradual attempt to achieve appropriate body/mind (psychophysical) integration. As we have seen this culminates with the "highest" level H3 (nondual) where every psychological event is also clearly experienced in complementary physiological terms. In other words the body now becomes extremely sensitive to any psychological changes (of an affective or cognitive kind). In like manner the mind becomes extremely sensitive to any physiological changes! This entails the four-way integration of quadrants in diagonal terms.

Here for example the "exterior" aspect of a "higher" stage of H3 (understood in conscious cognitive terms) is directly integrated in experience in "top-down" fashion with the "interior" aspect of the corresponding "lower" stage L3 (understood in unconscious affective terms). However in corresponding terms the "interior" aspect of the "lower" stage of L3 now having switched to conscious understanding is directly integrated in "bottom-up" fashion with the "exterior" aspect of the higher stage of H3 (understood in an unconscious manner).

Thus the pure experience of spiritual awareness (as a state) - where transcendent and immanent aspects are identified with each other - coincides, in dynamic experiential terms, with the phenomenal structures of form, whereby mental (psychological) and body (physiological) stimuli are experienced as identical (insofar as this can actually be approximated in development). So the integration of the body with the mind (and the mind with the body) that then occurs in structural terms coincides with the same integration of the transcendent and immanent (and immanent and transcendent) directions of spiritual experience as state. Thus when we combine both, we have the integration of the Spirit with the mature body/mind (top-down integration) and the corresponding integration of the body/mind with Spirit (bottom-up integration).

And remarkably all of this has a precise holistic mathematical rationale providing an overall scientific coherence that would be otherwise impossible to properly interpret!

Summary of 12 Levels - Structures and States

Lower Levels

L3 (Archaic)

State: Eternal (non-being) to confused deep sleep

Life commences from an eternal state of non-being i.e. before differentiation or integration takes place. The first stage largely represents a confused deep sleep state where experience remains at a primitive unconscious level. However insofar as some differentiation (of the body-self) takes place, a degree of waking activity is also involved (though initially the infant cannot properly differentiate waking from sleep).

So from the perspective of the infant "night" and "day" states are not yet clearly distinguishable (though such a distinction would be more apparent to an outside "rational" observer).

Structure: Binary confusion relating to confused circular integration of all three polarities (diagonal, vertical and horizontal) leading to gradual linear differentiation with respect to diagonal.

Again in structural terms, we start from the totally confused position where linear (1) form is indistinguishable from circular (0) emptiness with respect to all three fundamental polarities (diagonal, vertical and horizontal). So initially form cannot be properly distinguished from emptiness (diagonal); whole cannot be distinguished from part notions (vertical) and the interior aspect cannot be distinguished from the exterior (horizontal). Then initial linear differentiation gradually unfolds with respect to the diagonal polarities through the emergence of the bodyself (enabling form to be distinguished from emptiness) with however largely confused circular integration remaining with respect to horizontal and vertical polarities.

Again "night" and "day" structures are not clearly distinct from each other.

L2 (Magical)

State: Confused deep sleep to confused dream activity [9]

Again though in conventional terms we would identify daytime activity of the child as a waking state, more properly it still represents the predominance of (unconscious) sleep with dream activity though insofar as differentiation takes place, (conscious) waking activity is also involved. Thus (conscious) phenomena are still very closely related to the primitive unconscious possessing animistic properties and are subject to a confused form of magic wish fulfilment.

"Night" and "day" states now gradually become more distinct with (unconscious) sleep dominating more with respect to "night" and (conscious) waking in "day" terms.

Structure: Confused circular integration with respect to vertical and horizontal (with growing differentiation with respect to diagonal) leading to gradual linear differentiation of vertical.

As well as continuing differentiation of the diagonal polarities, we now have initial differentiation of the vertical thus enabling the gradual separation of whole and part in the emergence of the emotional self. So for example the child begins to develop an (individual) identity as psychologically distinct from the (collective) mother.

"Day" and "night" structures now become more distinct with differentiation largely confined to waking activities. "Night" structures largely play a supporting unconscious role for the growth of daytime linear activities.

L1 (Mythic)

State: confused dream to (implicit) waking

As the child gradually develops consciousness (through differentiation) participatory magical experience of phenomena diminishes. Though more detachment is possible, their holistic archetypal nature (relating to the unconscious) still remains confused with conscious expression. However implicitly the separation of both aspects can take place in terms of customary activities where a better-established waking state predominates.

"Day" and "night" expressions become increasingly separated with "night" confined to (confused) sleep and daytime to less confused waking activity.

Structure: Confused circular integration of horizontal with growing linear differentiation of both vertical and diagonal slowly giving way also to (implicit) linear differentiation of remaining horizontal polarities through the emergence of the mental self.

As clearer emotional differentiation of whole and part notions takes place in development, the focus starts to shift to remaining horizontal polarities i.e. interior and exterior (and exterior and interior) at a mental level, though initially in a more implicit - than directly explicit - manner.

"Day" and "night" structures are now more clearly separated. While linear (differentiated) structures become increasingly dominant in daytime, circular (integral) structures of a somewhat confused nature typify nighttime experience. These however play a valuable compensating (reduced) integral role with respect to daytime activity.

Middle Levels

L0 (Concrete Rational)

State: Implicit dream to waking

Consciousness now begins to enter on its specialised development (where it operates in a fully explicit manner). However at this stage mythic (dream) understanding - representing the remaining adherence of confused unconscious elements - still operates in more general implicit terms.

With respect to localised experience however, consciousness has now sufficiently detached from the unconscious to enable explicit understanding that is fully awake (i.e. properly coherent in logical terms).

"Day" and "night" states are now largely separated in discrete terms with (conscious) waking increasingly dominant in daytime and (unconscious) sleep dominant at nighttime.

Structure: explicit linear differentiation of all polarities (diagonal, vertical and horizontal) in a localised superficial context. However implicitly - at a deeper level - confused complementarily (especially with respect to horizontal polarities) still exists.

As differentiation of structures continues, remaining integral confusion, due to failure to properly distinguish opposite poles, ebbs away when applied to understanding in well-defined specific contexts. The mind now (increasingly detached from the body and emotions) can increasingly operate on its environment in an independent controlling manner. However at the deeper level of fundamental beliefs, understanding still reflects mythical confusion (where linear and circular elements remain entangled).

"Day" and "night" structures (like their corresponding states) now become increasingly separated in a discrete manner. Daytime activity is associated predominantly with linear (differentiated) understanding; nighttime activity is associated predominantly with (immature) circular integration, which again however is invaluable as a physical supportive base for waking activity.

L0,H0 i.e. M0 (Formal Rational)

State: explicit waking

We now have reached the middle of the Spectrum (in terms of lower, middle and higher levels). Here the (mere) specialised development of (conscious) waking activity reaches its zenith though the other states must necessarily be still combined in dynamic terms. Now - at least in formal terms - the separated conscious mind is enabled to act on its environment (and on its own phenomenal products) in an increasingly abstract manner. This full waking state coincides with a strong belief in asymmetrical notions of time and space (capable of ever more minute subdivision).

"Day" and "night" expressions now achieve their greatest separation (in discrete terms). Because valued knowledge, in formal terms, is so much based on conscious notions, meaningful activity - especially scientific - is almost exclusively related to waking daytime. However once again - though less valued - (unconscious) sleep (related to nighttime) serves an extremely valuable compensating support for such waking activity.

Structure: explicit linear differentiation of all three sets of polarities (diagonal, vertical and horizontal).

The specialised development of (mere) linear (asymmetrical) understanding achieves its greatest expression. The mind has now differentiated so much from body and emotions that it can act in an increasingly abstract universal manner on all phenomena (mental and physical). However in dynamic terms, circular (integral) understanding must also be implicitly involved providing the - formally unrecognized - coherent aspect in qualitative terms for such understanding.

As with states, "day" and "night" expressions now achieve their greatest discrete separation. Daytime is largely dominated by linear (asymmetrical) understanding whereas confused integral understanding is still given expression at nighttime (though the possibility for lucid moments of spiritual realisation increasingly exists).

H0 (Vision logic)

State: explicit waking to implicit (mature) dream.

There is a certain paradox regarding the nature of vision-logic. Though it is formally based on the comprehensive detailed use of linear (asymmetrical) understanding, implicitly it is of a very dynamic nature due to the two-way interaction of mental and sense phenomena.

This dynamic use therefore (implicitly) requires the plentiful generation of spiritual intuition, which in turn provides an increasingly coherent overall perspective for such understanding. Therefore, though in formal terms interpretation is still based on the waking state, implicitly it starts drawing on a (mature) spiritual dream state. This dream state is literally what provides the intuitive vision to fuel the comprehensive detailed activity of vision-logic.

Again "day" and "night" expressions will remain somewhat separate. However the possibility of spiritually rich archetypal dreams are now possible in nighttime terms (that can be more integrally coherent than their daytime counterparts). So "night" activity here can in certain circumstances provide the crucial catalyst for transition to the "higher" levels.

Structure: explicit - refined linear (asymmetrical) structures; implicit - spiritual intuition pertaining to higher levels.

We now reach the most refined use possible of (mere) structures, which in explicit terms are defined in linear (asymmetrical) manner with respect to an increasingly wide range of contexts. However the overall holistic coherence to synthesise such structures is implicitly provided through the creative expression of spiritual intuition. Though from a dynamic context, the unambiguous validity of many varied asymmetrical relationships in a local context leads to overall inconsistency from a global integral perspective, this key issue cannot be properly dealt with at this stage.

Again as with states, "day" and "night" structures are still largely separated in discrete terms with the former devoted to differentiated understanding with the latter (implicitly) serving a more integral function. However the possibility of creative links as between these two domains now grows stronger. For example nighttime sleep can provide the intuitive holistic insight to coherently synthesise the differentiated activity (associated with daytime understanding).

Higher Levels

H1 (Subtle)

State: Waking to mature dream

Whereas the middle levels represents specialisation of (mere) conscious activity, the higher levels represent corresponding mature specialisation of the (spiritual) unconscious. This means in effect that the states we associate with nighttime (i.e. dream and sleep) gradually come to dominate during - what we conventionally refer to as - the waking state. So H1 represents the level whereby experience gradually moves away from the waking state (defined by differentiated conscious activity) to a dream state (characterised by spiritual illumination released from the unconscious). Looked at from another perspective, the nondual dimension of experience (as Spirit) increasingly interpenetrates with the (rigid) dualistic world of form. This creates an inevitable conflict, which one continually strives to resolve through a purer dream state (in turn associated with a more refined appreciation of structural form).

An interesting reverse now begins to take place with respect to the "day" and "night" experience of these states. As daytime gradually gives rise to the more mature expression of what is conventionally considered a nighttime state i.e. dream, the nighttime now can become more associated with what is conventionally considered a daytime state i.e. waking.

In other words the possibility of lucid dreams (while sleeping) is now much more likely.

Structure: Bi-directional circular understanding with respect to horizontal polarities; linear asymmetrical remaining with respect to vertical and diagonal.

The nature of understanding now changes from an intellectual mode suited for differentiation to one that is now more properly suited for integration. At this stage the main emphasis is on the satisfactory two-way reconciliation of opposite poles exterior and interior (and interior and exterior) in heterarchical terms. Though development with respect to each pole (taken separately) appears to unfold asymmetrically in the same direction, when considered as interdependent they move in opposite directions from each other. Thus - considered from an integral perspective - dualistic understanding with respect to either pole is rendered deeply paradoxical. The growing appreciation of such paradox with respect to form in structural terms serves as the very means through which rigid attachment to dualistic phenomena is gradually eroded. This is turn leads to a transformation in nondual spiritual awareness where opposite poles are intuitively integrated. And the process works both ways so that the growth in pure intuitive awareness (in nondual spiritual terms) leads to keener appreciation of dualistic paradox (with respect to opposite poles) at the reduced level of rigid form. In this way form through this dynamic interaction of structure and state, form and emptiness (and emptiness and form) become increasingly interdependent.

It is vital to appreciate how the processes of differentiation and integration - though necessarily related to each other - correspond to unique logical approaches.

Differentiated appreciation corresponds with the linear (asymmetrical) approach where opposite poles are considered as relatively independent. Thus holarchic notions of transcendence and inclusion e.g. that the atom is transcended and included in the molecule correspond solely to the differentiated manner of interpretation. However integral appreciation - by contrast - corresponds to the circular (symmetrical) approach where opposite poles are considered as complementary. This leads to the breakdown of all asymmetrical distinctions (and is the very basis through which nondual awareness unfolds).

Thus any attempt to approach integration through linear asymmetrical understanding is somewhat reduced and representative of the intellectual interpretation of the middle levels (which is not properly suited for integral appreciation).

"Day" and "night" activity now become less separated due to development of the unconscious (which is common to both). So in daytime one tends to increasingly "dream" (through the growing influence of creative spiritual intuition). This corresponds to dream waking. Though lucid awareness is now more likely, likewise at nighttime one also dreams (under the growing influence of creative spiritual intuition). This corresponds to dream sleeping. However because conscious activity is dampened down at nighttime, this allows the possibility of especially important archetypal messages to be communicated while asleep which can greatly assist the overall direction of development at this time.

H2 (Causal)

State: Mature virtual dream to (mature) deep sleep.

With the commencement of this level, considerable erosion with respect to the rigid experience of phenomena will already have taken place so that a pure level of spiritual awareness informs all conscious experience. This in turn enables the unconscious to indirectly express itself more freely through the emission of short-lived - though often intensely experienced - projections. Though these projections thus assume a temporary conscious identity, their true identity pertains to the holistic spiritual unconscious. They are therefore of a virtual nature (being more "imaginary" than "real" in identity). The further spiritual development of the unconscious now requires the gradual erosion of all secondary attachment to the indirect conscious manifestations of such phenomena. Thus as the direct spiritual development of the unconscious unfolds during the causal level, phenomena become increasingly short-lived in experience tending to disappear from memory as soon as they arise. In his way one moves from a virtual dream to a deep sleep spiritual state.

Distinctions as between "day" and "night" activity become less apparent (with deep sleep tending to predominate both realms). Not surprisingly therefore this period of the spiritual journey is often referred to as the "night" which at times is gently illuminated (as if by moonlight) and tranquil while at other times experienced as stormy and filled with terror. However insofar as there is a distinction, refined waking (i.e. conscious) activity remains more prevalent during daytime.

It is important to remember however that even though the deep sleep state increasingly characterises this level, it cannot yet achieve its fullest expression. Therefore occasional virtual dream activity still remains.

Structure - Bi-directional circular understanding with respect to horizontal and vertical polarities with linear (asymmetrical) understanding remaining with respect to diagonal

As we have seen the defining characteristic of the understanding of the higher levels is that it becomes increasingly refined so that linear (asymmetrical) notions appropriate for differentiation and circular (complementary) notions appropriate for integration dynamically interact (without reductionism). At H1 attention focuses mainly (though not exclusively) on the paradoxical bi-directional nature of the horizontal polarities i.e. interior and exterior (and exterior and interior) that operate within a given level in heterarchical terms. One learns here how to distinguish differentiation (where relations are unambiguously defined within a - relatively - independent polar context) from integration (where relationships are now seen as paradoxical with opposite poles understood as complementary).

At H2 understanding begins to operate increasingly in hierarchical terms with the same bi-directional understanding now applying to the vertical polarities i.e. whole and part (and part and whole). This requires both holarchical (where each whole is also a part of a higher whole) and onarchical appreciation (where each part is also whole in the context of higher parts). The practical application of this leads to the need for both top-down integration (where the "lower" level is integrated from the perspective of the "higher") and bottom-up integration (where the "higher" is integrated from the perspective of the "lower"). In other words "higher and "lower" (and "lower" and "higher") are increasingly experienced as having a merely relative meaning (which forms the phenomenal basis for movement to nondual spiritual awareness). At H2 one also learns to clearly distinguish "real" holarchies (and onarchies) that are the direct expression of the conscious from their "imaginary" counterparts (where they are the indirect expression of the unconscious).

Again "day" and "night" activity tend to considerably converge here. However insofar as a distinction remains, refined structures of form are more typical of daytime with refined spiritual emptiness in turn more typical of "night" activity.

H3 (Nondual)

State: Deep sleep to eternal

As portrayed here, H3 represents the culmination in specialisation of the mature spiritual unconscious where rigid attachment either directly to "real" conscious phenomena or indirectly to "imaginary" projections (from the unconscious) is now largely eroded. Therefore it coincides with a deep sleep state where the Spirit incubates in a largely peaceful - yet hidden - manner in the regions of the unconscious.

Very temporary "eruptions" in the form of virtual dream activity will however still take place till full (unconscious) integration is achieved. This virtual dream activity relates to the most deep-rooted existential fears and primitive erotic fantasies relating to both the "higher" spiritual self and the "lower" physical body (before the final nondual reconciliation of both is maintained). Indeed in the most intimate fashion such activity relates to the fear of death and the (merely) natural desire for life (that have not yet been fully extinguished). St John of the Cross refers to such fears (before full spiritual union is obtained) as "watching fears of night" which indeed is a very accurate term.

However as a pure deep sleep state is established any dualistic distinction from the opposite waking condition is itself eroded. Thus the deep sleep culminates in a truly eternal state (where any remaining divide as between conscious and unconscious largely ceases).

Thus the eternal state resembles a pure void (strictly in terms of attachment to phenomena of form). However equally it presents the pure potential for the recreation of this entire world of form (as spiritually transparent phenomena).

Not surprisingly any remaining distinction as between "day" and "night" states tends to cease at this time. Thus from a daytime perspective one operates as if sleepwalking (strictly sleepwaking) in that one still tends to conscious activities (with however no attachment to such activities remaining in memory). Equally from a nighttime perspective one can operate in reverse fashion as if in waking sleep. In other words the mind can remain potentially attentive to conscious stimuli (while conventionally asleep).

Structure: Bi-directional circular understanding with respect to horizontal, vertical and diagonal polarities.

As any remaining rigid attachment to phenomena ceases, the capacity for realisation of the truly relative - and thereby paradoxical - nature of all (linear) dualistic truth reaches its zenith. As this is so important perhaps it should be explained at greater length. At H1 (subtle) circular understanding is largely confined to the merely conscious level (where one attempts to integrate opposite polarities i.e. interior and exterior within this given level. Indeed quite often such attempts at reconciliation - though indeed spiritually inspired - can operate in unduly intellectual terms (with emotions still remaining somewhat repressed). At the next level H2 (causal) one grows in the understanding of how conscious and unconscious are themselves interlinked and how true integration requires both the reconciliation of the cognitive and affective aspects of personality. This in turn leads to much greater emphasis on the two-way hierarchical nature of development with the corresponding need for both top-down and bottom-up type integration. So here holarchies (where each whole is also a part in the context of higher wholes) become clearly distinguished from onarchies (where each part is also whole in the context of higher parts) and it is such recognition that enables balanced two-way integration.

At H2 one also learns to distinguish "real" (i.e. local and directly conscious) from "imaginary" phenomena (i.e. the holistic indirect expression of the unconscious). Furthermore clear realisation of this distinction enables the smooth switching as between the holarchical and onarchical expressions of development.

However - even with the successful unfolding of H2 - some degree of imbalance will still remain as between the conscious and unconscious expression of phenomena (which manifests itself especially at the physical instinctive level of experience). Therefore the full integration of the bodyself with Spirit (and the Spirit with the bodyself) requires the remaining development of the diagonal polarities. What this means in effect is that one must learn to fully balance conscious and unconscious with respect to diagonally opposite quadrants thereby enabling the smooth unattached two-way movement as between "lower" and "higher" (and "higher" and "lower") levels in the Spectrum. In other words such development at H3 is necessary for the successful integration of all complementary "lower" and "higher" levels. And when the full relativity of these levels is achieved any remaining dualistic distinction as between "higher and "lower" (and "lower" and "higher") ceases so that pure nondual spiritual awareness is thereby attained.

Once again as with states "day" and "night" expressions are now largely reconciled with the capacity for conscious awareness at nighttime (and unconscious awareness at daytime) keenly established.

Radial levels

The radial levels entail the incorporation of all states in mature fashion with structures both linear and circular. In other words ultimately the states are combined with the structures of all levels ("lower", middle and "higher") during the radial stages. As "higher" and "lower" (and "lower" and "higher") have been already substantially integrated (with the culmination of H3), this now implies that mature integration (and differentiation) of these with the middle levels (and in reverse fashion the middle with "higher" and "lower" levels) now takes place.

R1 (Spiritual Reawakening)

State: mature eternal to mature deep sleep

Whereas the direction of development during the "higher" levels is from waking to (mature) dream to (mature) deep sleep to eternal, the reverse movement is now likewise incorporated in experience so that a gradual reawakening directly inspired by pure Spirit takes place.

Though conscious reawakening in Spirit occurs at R1, it is still of a very passive holistic nature where it remains closely associated with the purified unconscious. 10

Such experience is ideal for clarification of the universal nature of all dynamic transformation processes in development (i.e. the task with which I am currently engaged). So this intellectual approach to development is thereby designed as a - preliminary - Radial 1 interpretation. So as the world is now reborn in Spirit, at the breaking of the dawn its most holistic universal features become especially apparent.

There is still not much division here as between "day" and "night" experience. Both remain very close to the purified spiritual unconscious that only now gradually reawakes in a new worldly creation.

Structure: mature bi-directional circular understanding with respect to horizontal and vertical polarities; mature radial understanding i.e. incorporating both circular and linear aspects with respect to diagonal polarities.

The radial levels lead to the mature interpenetration of both dual and nondual aspects of experience. Put another way the specialised development of contemplative spiritual awareness - which facilitates the appreciation of bi-directional circular relationships - gradually begins to incorporate linear understanding (in a mature manner). In other words as the world is reborn one gradually learns to become involved in transforming creative activity (as the outward expression of Spirit). The diagonal polarities relate to the most fundamental interaction of form and emptiness. So as stated before, this is ideal - in intellectual terms - for the construction of dynamic universal radial structures of development (that relate integral and differentiated aspects in a balanced manner).

As with early dawn where the light is still dim, one may still experience considerable limitations in terms of local responsibilities coping well only with what can be seen in one's immediate environment. So there can still be a considerable gap as between one's contemplative development with its potential for universal expression and one's actual activities still limited to immediate local concerns.

Again with respect to structures "day" and "night" experience will tend to be closely related, with the intuitive aspect released more though nighttime and active expression more associated with daytime (waking) activity. (However we are now referring to a stage of development where all states and structures are closely interdependent).

R2 (Mature Vision)

State: Mature eternal to mature deep sleep to mature dream

As reawakening gains strength, one's active orientation to the world increases. The mature dream state now reaches its full development where it is applied in an increasingly creative manner with respect to external reality. Though one is not yet fully active, literally the dream that will transform future activity takes proper shape. So one can begin to see most clearly - in the light of one's personality and circumstances - how the Spirit (within one) can be best expressed through committed worldly involvement.

With respect to "day" and "night" expressions of these states, the waking aspect (though not yet fully realised) is confined more to daytime activity. The dream aspect may now be equally confined to both "day" and "night" activity with deep sleep more closely associated with nighttime. However such distinctions are of a merely relative nature for as the full development of states approaches they can be increasingly used in either a "day" or "night" manner.

Structure - mature bi-directional circular understanding with respect to horizontal; mature radial understanding i.e. incorporating both circular and linear aspects with respect to diagonal and vertical polarities.

There is a greater balancing now of cognitive and affective aspects leading to growing wisdom (with respect to the cognitive) that interpenetrates with greater compassion (with respect to the affective). Such compassion is not just universally felt for all mankind but now increasingly given more practical focus in specific ways.

So there is now growing interaction of the universal holistic perspective (expressed through circular appreciation) and the more localised practical expression of such a perspective (through linear understanding).

"Night" and "day" expressions of such structures tend to intermingle with the capacity for lucid thinking during nighttime and deep (unconscious) awareness in the midst of daytime activity.

R3 (Creative Transformation)

State: Mature eternal to mature deep sleep to mature dream to mature waking

Now all states approach their fullest mature realisation. This entails the capacity for the (relative) independent (differentiated) expression and also the combined (integral) interpenetration of these states where appropriate. Thus where intense activity is involved, the full radial expression of the waking state will be required. Moreover this will now operate at a very creative level ultimately incorporating the full mature expression of the dream state. Equally the capacity for maintaining a truly contemplative focus in the midst of such activity will require the most mature expression of the deep sleep state. And finally the balanced interpenetration of all such states requires the purest attainment of the eternal spiritual state.

Likewise this entails the capacity for "day" and "night" expressions to embody all these states.

Structure: mature radial understanding i.e. incorporating both circular and linear aspects with respect to diagonal, vertical and horizontal polarities.

We now have the full balancing of cognitive, affective and - especially - moral aspects with respect to all experience. So now such activity - which may be carried out to the most demanding and intense requirements - serves as but the outward expression of a life centred totally on Spirit.

Again here "day" and "night" use of structures interpenetrate to the fullest extent where they can be used with relative independence or alternatively combined together harmoniously (where appropriate). So finally states and structures themselves are now combined in a fully balanced fashion.


We have traced briefly the manner in which both (primary) states and (primary) structures unfold for each of the 12 major levels (with due attention to both "day" and "night" use). Though I have used the conventional language of states (i.e. waking, dreaming and deep sleep) to facilitate communication it is important to recognize that these can be given a more universal scientific interpretation (that is applicable to all holons).

So ultimately every (primary) state can be configured in binary terms in terms of on (dual) and off (nondual) states and the interaction of both aspects. This exactly mirrors the corresponding binary configuration of (primary) structures in terms of linear (1) and circular (0) aspects (and their mutual interaction).

So just as all information processes can be potentially encoded analytically in terms of the binary digits 1 and 0 represented electronically through on and off states, likewise in complementary fashion, all transformation processes can be potentially encoded in terms of the holistic interpretation of the binary digits i.e. linear (1) and circular (0) that are electrically (i.e. psychophysically) represented through on (dual) and off (nondual) states.

And this binary interpretation of development can be extended in considerable detail to deal with all other manifestations of stages (e.g. as stages of self and stages of reality and the psychophysical interactions of the body/mind). [11] This once again demonstrates that the fundamental nature of all development is indeed mathematical (when appreciated in an appropriate integral manner).


1. A stage of self with respect to one level could be experienced together with a stage of reality from another level. Equally a stage of reality at one level could be associated with a stage of self of another level. Because the nature of experience is inherently dynamic, various levels can interact with each other. However having said this there are limits to the manner in which stages of self and reality (with respect to differing levels) can be experienced due to the fact that they are inherently related in a (complementary) heterarchical manner. 2. This does not necessarily mean that one becomes inactive with respect to everyday affairs (though there may well indeed be a temporary slow-down in involvement). Rather it means that one learns to participate in such affairs largely free of direct conscious attachment.

3. The unconscious relates to the identity of opposite poles (which are understood as separate in conscious terms). Virtual phenomena relate to indirect conscious expressions of what inherently relate to the unconscious. Therefore the purer the virtual phenomena (i.e. the closer they lie to the unconscious), the more fleeting and elusive they appear in conscious terms. There are strong similarities here with the nature of virtual phenomena in physics, which lie very close to the fundamental ground of reality (which corresponds to the physical version of the unconscious).

4. It is important to remember that this must be understood in dynamic terms. Therefore H2 (causal) is vertically complementary with L2 (magical). Now whereas in early infant development these levels are closely related in a two-way confused fashion - as relatively trans and pre (and pre and trans) with respect to each other - now with advanced spiritual development they are again closely related (this time in a mature disentangled fashion). So from this integral perspective the continuous rather than the discrete interpretation of stages is more appropriate.

5. Because horizontal (heterarchical) and vertical (hierarchical) aspects are ultimately fully interdependent, the initial attempt at H1 to integrate in two-way fashion the heterarchical polarities (stages of self and stages of reality) is limited by lack of sufficient hierarchical integration. Then at H2 the attempt to achieve two-way hierarchical integration (primary states and structures) is in turn limited by lack of completion of integration at the heterarchical level. Thus full diagonal integration in terms of the psychophysical interactions of the body/mind requires the simultaneous integration of both heterarchical and hierarchical aspects.

6. Once again - especially at this stage - "higher" and "lower" (and "lower" and "higher") have a purely relative meaning depending on context. More correctly "body" in this context relates to "the body that is made spiritually immanent" whereas "Spirit" relates to "the body that is transcended through Spirit. So in this manner "body" and "Spirit" can be seen to be truly complementary.

7. This means for example that as soon as the refined experience of a state with respect to a stage of self takes place at the "higher" level, that the complementary refined experience of a structure with respect to a stage of reality takes place at the corresponding "lower" level. So one keeps alternating as between states and structures (and structures and states) with respect to both stages of self and stages of reality in complementary "higher" and "lower" levels (which are now clearly understood as having a merely relative meaning).

8. With respect to the Hindu tradition (Vedanta) Ken refers to "bodies" such as gross, subtle and causal. I would see this as referring to the unique psychophysical interaction that characterises these stages. However I would find the term "body" in this context as somewhat vague as more accurately it should be "body/mind". Also it is important to recognise that there is a confused experience of the bodies - characterised by - what in discrete terms would be referred to as - the prepersonal levels and the corresponding mature experience of the transpersonal. Furthermore we can distinguish as between the "day" experience (when would be conventionally viewed by an observer as the waking state) and the "night" experience (when one would be viewed as asleep) though ultimately these two aspects are indistinguishable.

9. Once again a "rational" observer - operating in terms of the dualistic understanding of the middle levels - would clearly distinguish when the infant is awake and when asleep. However this distinction would be far less obvious to the infant experiencing at this level. Therefore though the waking state is necessarily involved (insofar as differentiation of structures has taken place), the other two states (deep sleep and dreaming would still dominate the infant's world). Thus from an interactive perspective all states are necessarily involved with respect to any experience (though their relative importance can vary greatly).

10. I am very much aware that a wide variety of distinctive paths of development are possible so that the actual dynamic unfolding which development takes is unique in each individual case (depending on personality, environment, life circumstances etc). So what I am attempting to do here is to give a coherent account of one particular path (that is based on actual experience). And this path happens to be of the more contemplative kind (where the radial levels initially unfold in a somewhat passive manner). However the more common experience of the radial is likely to be more active representing an enhanced type of centauric awareness (where a substantial degree of genuine contemplative awareness is also involved).

11. In holistic mathematical terms stages of self and stages of reality are positive (+) and negative (-) with respect to each other. In other words in dynamic interactive terms to switch from self to reality we must first negate the former stage. Likewise to switch from reality to self we must again - in reverse manner - negate the former stage.

(Primary) states and structures are "real" and "imaginary" with respect to each other. What this means in effect is that conscious and unconscious must necessarily interact in continuous fashion. Thus when a state is consciously experienced (i.e. as "real), the corresponding structure is likewise unconsciously experienced (i.e. as "imaginary"). In reverse manner when the structure is consciously experienced (i.e. as "real), the corresponding state is unconsciously experienced (i.e. as "imaginary"). In this way states and structures (and structures and states) continually switch from "real" to "imaginary" (and "imaginary" to "real") status through the interaction of both conscious and unconscious. However until pure contemplative union is obtained some sequential separation will remain as between both aspects (relating to a degree of remaining phenomenal attachment).

Psychophysical interactions of the body/mind are literally the most "complex" in holistic mathematical terms entailing the (near) simultaneous presence of both "real" and "imaginary" aspects with respect to structures and states and positive and negative aspects with respect to stages of self and reality. At H3 (nondual) spiritual contemplative experience has now become so refined that little remaining (rigid) attachment exists (in either conscious or unconscious terms). This enables therefore one to approximate the simultaneous switching of states with structures and stages of self with reality. Thus ultimately a pure simple nondual state underlines the "complex" structural dual formulations of the body/mind at H3. As I have stated before the truly remarkable fact is that all the holistic mathematical notions that are required for a detailed modelling of development - literally - relate to a reduced expression of unity (that can be illustrated in geometrical terms as the eight sectors, conforming to the division of the circle of unit radius in terms of horizontal, vertical and diagonal polarities).


George Johnson, In the Palaces of Memory; Vintage; Reprint edition (March 3, 1992)

Ken Wilber, Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy, Shambhala, 2000

Peter Collins, Development: The Radial Approach, Chap 14

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