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

Integral World Forum

Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".



 Building a Model of Human Development
That is Truly a ‘Theory of Everything’

-- Installment 1: Overview of the ADAPT Model --


Hugh & Amalia Kaye Martin


AQAL, the Next Generation


AQAL, The Next Generation is a radical condensation of a projected two-semester, graduate-level course.  To make this complex model more accessible in this abbreviated form, we have divided the presentation into four installments:

{  Installment 1.  Overview of ADAPT.  This installment presents the essential features of the ADAPT Model – stripped of unnecessary explanations, elaborations, or justifications.  To illustrate how growth works, we explain only the first of the eight Systems (see Installment 2 for the others).  Lengthy explanations of certain concepts and methods have been omitted (see Installment 3 for the omissions).

{  Installment 2.  The Systems of ADAPT.  Our complete paper presents the parameters of ADAPT Domain-by-Domain: First all the Dimensions, then all the Participants, then all the Processes, then all the modes of Togetherness.  By contrast, this installment presents the parameters System-by-System: First all the parameters of Growth System #1, then the parameters of System #2, on through System #8.  This reconfigured version shows how certain parameters work together as a mechanism to produce growth.

{  Installment 3.  The Special Topics of ADAPT.  This installment presents the four explanatory sections that were omitted from Installments #1 and #2: 1) Specific Processes of growth; 2) Modes of Togetherness; 3) How ADAPT and Wilber differ; and 4) Building the Next Generation of AQAL.

{  Installment 4.  ADAPT and Wilber Compared.  This installment presents a detailed, point-by-point comparison between the ADAPT Model and Ken Wilber’s AQAL and IOS.  This comparison reveals the points at which Wilber’s positions are most doubtful, and therefore most in need of revision.

{  Installment 5.  The ADAPT Slide Show.  In order to illustrate key points and to display detailed tables and charts, this installment presents an extensive slideshow, accompanied by the entire written text.  Slide numbers in the left-hand margin of the text enable the reader to follow along on the slideshow.


Downloads.  To download the entire AQAL, the Next Generation article, click here (Word document, 4,5 MB).

To see descriptions of other ADAPT studies by Hugh & Kaye Martin on, go to:

Permission to Use.  Permission is granted to use these studies for any non-commercial purpose – so long as attribution is given, and so long as the authors are notified beforehand.




Hugh & Kaye Martin have contributed six book-length studies on their ADAPT Model to Integral World – several of which consistently rank among the Top 50 in IW’s readership rankings.  Hugh & Kaye are best qualified as integral practitioners and theorists because they have lead integral lives.  Both have richly diverse backgrounds in a multitude of fields: personal transformation, natural medicine & health, artistic & creative expression, teaching & education, societal change, natural & cultural environments, advanced academics, and marriage & family.  Hugh received his degrees at Swarthmore, Penn, and UC Berkeley.  Kaye received her degrees and certifications from Cal State Fullerton and Bauman College.  A detailed biographical background can be found at the back of Installment 1 and of the full study.

Please address you comments on this study directly to Hugh and Kaye Martin,



-- Installment 1: Overview of the ADAPT Model --[1]
Hugh & Amalia Kaye Martin


LIFE IS TOUGH.  Dr. George Carlin, that great authority on vagaries of life, described Human Development best:

Life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What's that, a bonus?

I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way…

Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you're too young…

You get a gold watch, you go to work, you work forty years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement…

You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school…

You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities…

You become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating…

And you finish it off with an orgasm.

THE SCOPE OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT.  Carlin’s quirky perspective does have a point: Human Development is more than a dry, abstract, academic discipline.  It is very personal and relevant.  Human Development is an exploration of how we all change, grow, and evolve over time.  It describes how we can make that change positive, all-inclusive, and lasting.

Human Development is a very broad field.  It covers personal growth, parenting, teaching, counseling, therapy, and organizational consulting.  From a wider perspective, Human Development encompasses all areas of human endeavor where people grow and evolve – fields as diverse as psychology and education, history and economics, science and technology, art and music, literature and film, ecology and metaphysics, ethics and social activism, health and sexuality, religion and pop culture.  This essay presents a new model of Human Development that addresses and illuminates all these important fields.


FROM AQAL TO IOS.  Ken Wilber’s AQAL has been the source of much confusion. The AQAL acronym is not (nor was it intended to be) an adequate summary of Wilber’s model of Human Development.  It is merely a convenient and catchy enumeration of two of its more prominent features – Quadrants and Levels (with Lines, States, Self, and/or Types often added).  Wilber’s comprehensive growth model – his complete Integral Operating System (or IOS) – is never explicitly defined in his work, yet serves as the basis for many of his pronouncements.

So, what is Ken Wilber’s Integral Operating System?  What is Wilber’s fundamental, all-inclusive conceptual platform?  To answer these questions, we combed Wilber’s Integral Psychology and other seminal works – finding over two dozen distinct concepts Wilber considers essential for explaining Human Growth.  Then, much like Wilber himself, we wrote these concepts on yellow pads, laid them out on the living room floor, and rearranged them in various combinations until we found meaningful patterns.

FROM IOS TO ADAPT.  When we did so, we made a surprising discovery.  Each of Wilber’s developmental parameters falls into one of four fundamental Domains:

{  DimensionsWhere does the growth take place?  The various areas of human experience where development occurs.

{  ParticipantsWho does the growing?  The aspects of Identity or Self that participate in the growth process.

{  ProcessesWhat means are used?  The methods and techniques by which growth takes place.

{  Together-nessHow is it implemented?  The modes by which the whole growth process is guided and orchestrated.

For instance, the six parameters of Wilber’s expanded AQAL consist of four Dimensions (Quadrants, Levels, Lines, and States) and two Participants (Self and Types).  The additional IOS parameters and concepts we found in our search likewise fall under these Domains.  For instance, Wilber’s Great Nest, Map, Stage, Wave, Trait, Transformation, Ladder, Correlative Structure, Chakra, Cultural Stages, Spiral, Realm, Plane, Sphere, Physio-Biosphere/ Noosphere/ Theosphere, Terrestrial Realm, Plane of Existence, Celestial Plane, Stream, Height & Depth, U-shaped Pattern, Pathology, and Pre/Trans Fallacy are all related to Dimensions.  Wilber’s Proximate & Distal Self, Self-System, Archeology of Self, Ego, Bodyself, Felt Body, Culture, Role, Voice, Gender Type, Agency vs. Communion, Eros vs. Agape, Enneagram, Subpersonality, Shadow Self, Functional Invariant, I-I Self, True Self, and Soul all pertain to Participants.  Wilber’s Fulcrum, Embedding, Metabolism, Horizontal Translation, Vertical Transformation, Actualizing the Great Nest, Uncovering, Methodology, Modules of Integral Life Practice (ILP), Treatment, Therapy, Evolution & Involution, Transcend & Include, Sociocultural Evolution, and Waking Up, are all aspects of Processes.  And Wilber’s Navigation, Integration, Spirit-in-Action, Integral Institute, Full-Spectrum Therapist, Witness, Seer, Pure Consciousness, and Spirit are all features of Togetherness.

Thus, Wilber’s own Integral Operating System is actually a very highly-developed (though incomplete) version of a new developmental model that is much more inclusive and far more integrated.  We call this model ADAP2TAll Dimensions, All Participants, All Processes, Together.  (The acronym is pronounced A’-Dapt, and spelled ADAPT to keep it simple.)

FINE-TUNING ADAPT.  The establishment of the underlying ADAPT Model brought forth more questions: Were there any additional parameters that should be included?  Were Wilber’s pronouncements sufficiently clear, consistent, complete, and correct?  Were his concepts adequately organized, emphasized, and differentiated?  By fine-tuning Wilber’s parameters and adding new parameters from our own research and life experience, we completed the ADAPT Model.

EVALUATING ADAPT.  With the ADAPT Model complete, we wanted to assess its validity.  To do so, we performed point-by-point comparisons between Wilber’s positions and those of ADAPT.  Of 215 points of comparison, we found 99 conceptions where the two models take significantly differing positions.  Of these, we found at least 64 conceptions where (in the authors’ opinion) ADAPT’s position is a marked improvement.  In these 64 cases, Wilber’s positions are the most in doubt, and therefore most in need of re-consideration.  (For details, see section 3, ‘How ADAPT Improves on Wilber.’)

FROM CONCEPT TO ARCHETYPE.  As the various components of ADAPT were filled in, arranged, fine-tuned, and evaluated, we made one more surprising discovery:  The ADAPT Model shows some remarkable parallels to the fundamental Archetype of Human Development – the Life Journey, or Human Odyssey.  For instance, here are the four Domains in their archetypal versions:

{  DimensionsWhere?  The Dimensions are the Map of Life’s Journey.

{  ParticipantsWho?  The Participants are the crew, passengers, and other Voyagers on that Journey.

{  ProcessesBy what means?  The Processes are the Ships and other modes of conveyance that carry us on that Voyage.

{  Together-nessHow?  The modes of Togetherness are Navigator and Captain, who guide our Ships and orchestrate our Journey.

These and many other parallels between model and Archetype suggest that ADAPT is not just one theory among many that purport to describe Human Development.  Rather, ADAPT is the abstracted version of a universal model that people have used since the dawn of time to describe the progressions of human life.  These parallels to the Archetype confirm the validity of the ADAPT Model, and also provide an analytic source for further insights about that Model.

FROM ABSTRACT THEORY TO PERSONAL REVELATION.  Our greatest discovery was a very personal one.  As children of the 1960’s, we have always been bold experimenters.  Over the course of 30+ years, we have continually experimented with a dizzying array of alternative lifestyles, advanced academics, leading-edge therapies, innovative methods of raising children, alternative and traditional forms of medicine and healing, a succession of colorful careers and business ventures, radical political movements, and esoteric religious practices – all with an insatiable drive to become healthier, happier, clearer, wiser, more successful, more influential, more authentic, more free. 

With a rush of self-revelation, we discovered that our ADAPT Model explained, illuminated, and unified all these diverse experiments in life improvement.  Through ADAPT, we could reflect back on our frenetic quest for Nirvana – using our model to understand how to build a strong and supportive marriage; how to raise happy, healthy children; how to pursue a successful and significant career; and how to orchestrate our own growth and self-improvement.  In short, the ADAPT Model was transformed from a stimulating intellectual exercise into a virtual blueprint on how to live a richly satisfying and rewarding life.  As this presentation proceeds, we will illustrate the various parameters with examples drawn from these life-changing experiences.

FROM REVELATION TO APPLICATION.  Any theory that yields so many original insights on the human condition will also have many valuable applications.  Thus, we found the ADAPT Model to be an indispensable tool for the crucial, real-life applications of Integral Theory – for parenting, teaching, counseling, organizational consulting, academic research, personal growth, and so forth.  Our examples will show how the principles of ADAPT can make us more competent and effective in these important fields.


Installment #1 of AQAL, the Next Generation presents the overall features of the ADAPT Model – using System #1 as an example.  This installment consists of four sections: 

Section 1.    The Domains of the ADAPT Model.  Here we explain the four Domains of ADAPT, along with each parameter of System 1 within those Domains.  For each parameter, we indicate [in italics and brackets] the closest equivalent in Wilber’s IOS, give an example from real life, and (where appropriate) illustrate with an analogy from the Life Journey Archetype. 

Section 2.     The Systems of ADAPT (System #1).  Here we summarize the eight Systems as a whole.  Then we outline the Domains and parameters of System 1 -- showing how those elements work together to produce growth. 

Section 3.     How ADAPT Improves on Wilber.  Here we show how the ADAPT Model improves on Wilber’s AQAL and IOS. 

Section 4.     Toward a New AQAL.  Here we review the evolution of Wilber’s AQAL and IOS Models --explaining the need for a thoroughly-updated, radically-revised model.  We conclude with eight important reasons why ADAPT is the appropriate choice as the basis for a new AQAL. 

At the end, we include two appendices:

Appendix 3.       ADAPT Circle Diagram.  For those who believe no Integral Theory is complete without a circle diagram, we display the entire ADAPT system as one grand, multi-colored diagram – complete with eight concentric circles and four quadrants. 

Appendix 4.       Ken Wilber’s ADAPT.  Here we display the same Circle Diagram, with Wilber’s parameters substituted for our own.  (Similarities between the two diagrams will show that Wilber’s IOS Model is actually a highly-developed version of ADAPT itself.)




When sailing to some distant port, we need four things – a Map, a set of Voyagers, a Ship, and a Navigator/ Captain.  Likewise, in our Journey of Human Growth, we need four Domains -- Dimensions (of the Growth Continuum), Participants (in the growth process), Processes (of growth), and modes of ‘Togetherness’ (Guidance & Orchestration of all four Domains).  When all four Domains are complete and combined, they form an Integral model we call ADAPT – All Dimensions, All Participants, All Processes, Together.  We discuss each of these Domains in turn:


Human Growth is the Journey we take across the turbulent seas and exotic lands of life.  The Growth Continuum is a Map of all the routes and destinations our Journey of growth can take.  The Dimensions are the coordinates that define different features of our Map. 

In technical language, Growth is the process of moving and progressing along the Growth Continuum. The Growth Continuum [Wilber’s Great Nest, Map, Morphogenic Field] is a Field of eight Dimensions – parameters that describe the various areas in which growth takes place.  The four Dimensions of the Growth Continuum that pertain to System 1 are as follows:

D1: STAGES.  Stages are the ports of call in our Life’s Journey.  In technical language, Stages [Wilber’s Levels, Stages, Waves] are the levels of development, maturity, enlivenment, or enlightenment through which we pass as we grow.  Stages are generally periods of Horizontal Improvement and Translation [Wilber’s Horizontal Translation] – times when we are expanding and becoming better at activities we already know how to do.  Likewise, they are periods of Assimilation [Wilber’s Metabolism] – times when we digest and metabolize the Discoveries of the previous Transition, turning them into established Traits [Wilber: same term]. 

Stage Growth occurs as we progress within each Stage of Human Development.  Here, we meet and master the Challenges presented by that particular Stage.  First, we improve on the abilities we have acquired at that Stage.  Ex: “As a toddler, I’m getting better and better at walking.”  Second, we translate our competence to other related abilities.  Ex: “Now that I can walk, I’m excited to run, hop, skip, jump, and climb.”  As we shall see, both Improvement and Translation are part of the General Process of Horizontal Growth (PPR5a).

D2: TRANSITIONS.  Transitions are the open seas and routes of passage our Ship will take between one port of call and the next.  In technical language, Transitions [Wilber’s Transformations] are the quantum leaps that take us from one Stage to the next.  Transitions are periods of Vertical Transformation [Wilber: same term] – times when we are becoming something we’ve never been before.  Likewise, they are periods of Discovery – occasions when we encounter new situations and insights we will assimilate during our next Stage of development.  Transition Growth occurs as we Transition from one Stage to the next.  Here, we leave the familiar comfort of past (often-surmounted) Challenges, and venture into the unknown territory of strange and daunting new Challenges.  Ex: “So far, I’ve learned to crawl.  Now, I’ll get up off all fours and learn to toddle -- taking the chance I might fall and hurt myself.”

D1+2: The Developmental SequenceThe Developmental Sequence is our entire Life Journey – from open sea, to port of call, to open sea again, until our Ship reaches its final destination.  In technical language, the Developmental Sequence [Wilber’s Ladder, series of Fulcrums] is a series of alternating Stages and Transitions – of Stage, followed by Transition, followed by Stage, and so forth. 

For example, in the most familiar Developmental Sequence, Life Passages, we may be said to proceed through 13 Stages (in bold) and 12 intervening Transitions (in italics): Heritage > Conception > Gestation > Birth > Infancy > Crawling/walking > Toddler > Terrible 2’s > Young childhood > Entering school > Older childhood > Coming of Age > Adolescence > Nudged from nest > Young adulthood > Making-the-grade > Middle adulthood > Mid-life passage > Mature adulthood > Passing-the-baton > Elderhood > Debility/illness > Senescence > Death > Legacy.

As we shall see, the Stages & Transitions of the Developmental Sequence are navigated by the Self System (P1), through the mechanism of the Transition Cycle (PPR1).

D1+2a: The Fundamental Developmental Sequence (FDS).  For the internal Realms of Psyche, Body, and Spirit (see D3b-d), Wilber posits an all-inclusive series of alternating Stages & Transitions we call the Fundamental Developmental Sequence (or FDS).  [Wilber’s set of Correlative Structures. The left-hand column of Wilber’s Tables from Integral Psychology.]  Wilber’s FDS Sequence consists of 27 Stages and States, separated by 11 Transitions.  The FDS subsumes all other, more abbreviated Developmental Sequences – and therefore allows Wilber to make direct correspondences between the developmental models of many different Authorities.  Ex: “Sullivan, Erikson, Graves, Loevinger, Kegan, and Cook-Greuter all have Developmental Sequences for Self & Ego.  None of them correspond to each other, but they all correspond to the Stages & Transitions of Wilber’s FDS.”  These all-important correspondences are the foundation for Wilber’s ‘Theory of Everything.’  (See our study Arrays of Light for details.)

DD1+2: The Collective Developmental Sequence.  Groups go through a sequence of developmental Stages very similar to individuals.  Such Groups range in size and complexity from couples and families to Ethnic Groups and whole Cultures (P2b).  For instance, the two members of a couple can each grow as individuals -- but they can also grow collectively as a couple.  Ex: “As our relationship matures, we may grow from acquaintanceship, to friendship, to temporary involvement, to permanent partnership, etc.”  Likewise, mass populations can progress through Stages & Transitions of Cultural Evolution [Wilber: same term], but spread over eons of time.  Ex: “According to Don Beck’s Spiral Dynamics (1996), Cultures evolve from Instinctive, to Animistic, to Power Gods – continuing all the way through to Integrative and Holistic.”

D3: REALMS.  The Realms [Wilber’s Realms, Planes, Spheres] are the four major spheres of human experience in which growth and development can occur – Everyday Life, the Psyche, the Body, and the Spirit.  Each Realm contains its own series of Stages & Transitions through which growth takes place.  Corresponding to these Realms, there are four major paths of Human Growth (called Passages) -- one external and three internal.  The Realms, with their corresponding Passages, are as follows:

D3a: Life Passages are the external phases of accomplishment or achievement that occur as we progress through the biological Life Cycle.  Ex: “In my Life Passages, I develop through a series of external life Stages  – from infancy, through childhood, through adolescence, and on through various phases of adulthood.”  [Wilber’s Terrestrial Realm, Plane of Existence, Realm of the Material Self]

D3b: Psyche Passages are the internal phases of mental Maturation that occur as we progress through the Stages of psychological development.  Ex: “In the thinking aspect of my Psyche Passages, I develop my cognitive abilities from preconceptual and intuitive, to concrete operations, to formal operations, and finally to polyvalent logic.”  (drawn from Piaget, The Growth of Logical Thinking from Childhood to Adolescence (1958))  [Wilber’s Noosphere, the Realm of the psychological Self]

D3c: Body Passages are the internal phases of physical Enlivenment that occur as we activate and connect the Energy Centers of our body.  Ex: “In my Body Passages, my attention proceeds from Base Chakra needs for food and comfort to the Brow Chakra higher-thought functions of my central nervous system.”  [Wilber’s Physio-Biosphere, the Realm of the Bodyself, or Felt Body]

D3d: Spirit Passages are the internal phases of spiritual Enlightenment that occur as we ascend through the Stages and States of Spiritual Development.  Ex: “As Christians, we honor the Spirit Passages of life through seven sacraments – ranging from Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation To Marriage, Confession, and Ordination – and finally to Extreme Unction at death.”  (drawn from Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit (1996))  [Wilber’s Theosphere, or Celestial Plane]

D4: ARENAS.  Arenas [Wilber’s Lines, Streams] are the specific areas of activity within each Realm where growth takes place.  Each Realm has its own set of Arenas:

D4a: Life Arenas.  Within Life Passages, the Life Arenas are the spheres of activity in which we live our everyday life.  The counseling and coaching professions address at least ten major Life Arenas – five individual and five collective.  Individual Arenas: 1) Education & Skills-Building, 2) Career & Calling, 3) Finances & Investments, 4) Health & Well-Being, 5) Recreation & Enjoyment.  Collective Arenas: 6) Relationships & Marriage, 7) Sexuality & Sensuality, 8) Family & Children, 9) Friendships & Community, 10) Society & Culture.  Ex: “During the course of the day, I allocate my time among various Arenas.  I spend time attending to my work, maintaining my health, managing my money, nurturing my children, and contributing to my community.”

D4b: Psyche Arenas.  Within Psyche Passages, the Psyche Arenas are the themes of psychological development that characterize our inner life.  The psychological Studies from the Tables of Wilber’s Integral Psychology may be divided into nine separate Psyche Arenas:  1) Fundamental Needs, 2) Sexuality & Sensuality, 3) Affect & Emotions, 4) Ego & Experienced Self, 5) Leadership, 6) Cognition, 7) Art, Aesthetics, & Creativity, 8) Ethics & Morality, and 9) Worldviews.  Ex: “We can study the human psyche from the perspective of Needs (Maslow), Self & Ego (Cook-Greuter), Cognition (Piaget), Ethics (Kohlber), or Worldviews (Graves).”  

D4c: Body Arenas (experienced).  Within Body Passages, the Body Arenas are the regions or functions of the body where we experience growth internally.  Although this parameter is still under development, these Arenas will most likely be drawn from the fields that employ them.  These fields include: 1) Body-centered healing practices (acupuncture, chiropractic); 2) Body-directed alternative medicine (homeopathy, vibrational medicine); 3) Experiential, body-oriented psychotherapies (Reichian, Gestalt); 4) Body-inclusive spiritual practices (yoga, qi gong); and 5) The Eastern conception of the Chakras (unified Realms of Body, Psyche, and Spirit).

D4d: Spirit Arenas.  Within Spirit Passages, the Spirit Arenas are the aspects of spiritual evolution that characterize our higher consciousness.  [Although this parameter is still under development, Wilber suggests the following possible Spirit Arenas: 1) Care, 2) Openness, 3) Concern, 4) Religious Faith, and 5) Meditative Stages.]

[Dimensions D5 through D8 will be discussed in Installment 2 of AQAL, the Next Generation.]




The Participants are the crew, passengers, and other Voyagers who take part in our Life Journey.  In technical language, the Participants are the seven aspects of Identity, or Self, that partake in the growth process.  The two Participants that pertain to System 1 are as follows:

P1: THE SELF SYSTEM.  In our Life Journey, the Self System is our Hero -- the central character of our story, the adventurer who undergoes challenges and hardships, our Odysseus.  In technical language, the Self System represents two sides of a dialectic by which the Self grows.  [Wilber: no term.  Wilber’s Self-System refers to his Distal Self.]  The Self System consists of two parts -- the Experienced Self and the Observed Self: 

P1a. The Experienced Self.  The Experienced Self [Wilber’s Proximate Self] is the subjective, inside, I-Self [Wilber: same term] -- the Self that identifies with our current Stage of development.  Ex: “I’m a cool, hip, savvy teenager.”

P1b. The Observed Self.  The Observed Self [Wilber’s Distal Self] is the objective, outside, Me-Self [Wilber: same term] -- the Self from a prior Stage of development that we have transcended, or otherwise ceased to identify with.  Ex: “Before I became a cool teenager, I used to be a fat, awkward, confused grade-school kid.” 

As we shall see, the Experienced & Observed Selves are the twin aspects of Identity that proceed through the Stages & Transitions (D1-2), using the mechanism of the Transition Cycle (PPR1).

P6: THE FUNCTIONAL CONSTITUENTS OF SELF[Participant P6 is somewhat abstruse and technical.  It is included to account for a parameter Wilber considers important.]  The Functional Constituents [Wilber’s Functional Invariants] are the fundamental attributes of human nature.  They are the components from which the Self is built and the mechanisms that enable the Self to grow.  There are at least eleven Functional Constituents (listed from lowest to highest): Autonomic/ Instinctive, Programmed, Volition, Identity, Defense, Emotion, Intersubjectivity, Creativity, Rationality, Navigation, and Assimilation/Integration.  Ex: “I cope with different situations using different human capacities.  Sometime I exercise my will, sometimes my emotions, sometimes my thinking brain.  At other times, I’m just a programmed robot following conditioned routines.  Sometimes I feel like the grand coordinator and orchestrator of all these abilities.”  The Functional Constituents do not undergo Stage-like development, but they do enable such development to take place.  Their functional capacities can be strengthened and improved through proper use.

[Participants P2 through P5 and Participant P7 will be discussed in Installment 2 of AQAL, the Next Generation.]



Section 1-PR:  THE PROCESSES OF GROWTH – System 1

In our Life Journey, the Processes are the sailing Ships, and other means of conveyance, that carry us along the channels, coastlines, trade routes, and open seas of our growth.  In technical language, the Processes are all the Methods and Techniques that move us along the Stages and Transitions of the Growth Continuum.  There are eight General Processes and at least 35 Specific Processes.


General Processes are eight Processes that are always in effect whenever growth is taking place.  Once of those Processes pertains especially to System 1:

PPR1: THE TRANSITION CYCLE.  Transitions from one Stage to the next occur through a Process of Metamorphosis we call the Transition Cycle [Wilber’s Fulcrum].  In its basic form, the Transition Cycle proceeds through a four-phase sequence: 1) Identification with the Experienced Self (P1a).  Initially, the Self identifies with a particular Stage of development.  Ex: “I am a baby.”  2) Differentiation from the Observed Self (P1b).  Next, the Self transcends that Stage by dis-identifying with it.  Ex: “I am no longer the baby I was.”  3) Re-identification with the new Experienced Self.  Then, the Self begins to identify with the subsequent Stage of development.  Ex: “I am now a toddler.”  4) Integration of the new Experienced Self with the old Observed Self.  Finally, the Self consolidates the new identification with the prior identification.  Ex: “I’m a toddler with good feelings about the baby I used to be.”  [derived from Wilber’s Embedding cycle – which originates with Kegan, The Evolving Self (1982), and other works]  In Actualization Growth (PPR2, System 3), we will find that healthy growth occurs as we progress through a whole series of normal Transition Cycles.

 [General Processes PPR1a and PPR2 through PPR8 will be discussed in Installment 2 of AQAL, the Next Generation.  Specific Processes PR1-35 will be discussed in Installment 3.]



(Guidance & Orchestration) – System 1

In our Life Journey, ‘Togetherness’ is the process of guiding and orchestrating our Voyage.  Guidance is the task of the Navigator – the process of directing our Ship and keeping our Voyage on course.  Orchestration is the responsibility of the Captain – the process of arranging and coordinating all elements of our Voyage to produce a smooth-running, successful adventure. 

In technical language, Guidance [Wilber’s Navigation] is the process of choosing and directing our activities through all the alternatives life offers us.  Orchestration [Wilber’s Integration] is the process of weaving together, coordinating, and unifying all the Dimensions, Participants, and Processes, and Orchestrators that comprise the growth process.  Ex: “My son hopes to go to a really fine college next year.  We guide him by helping him to compare colleges and make the right choice.  We orchestrate the admissions process by helping him coordinate all the applications, standardized tests, recommendations, and essays.” 

There are 12 modes of Togetherness, divided into three types: – four Collective modes, six Individual modes, and two Internal modes.  We illustrate System 1 with one example from each of the three types:


Collective & Societal Guidance is the Guidance & Orchestration in the growth process provided by the Society and Culture we grow up in:

T1: PARENT/S.  Parents are the original, the most influential, and (ideally) most beneficial Guides of our growth Journey.   Our Parents have potentially the greatest understanding of our needs, the greatest opportunity to have an impact on us, the greatest authority over our lives, the greatest identification with our concerns, and the greatest motivation to help us grow.  Parenting (in its optimal form) can be seen as ‘nature’s way’ to provide every child with an Integral Life Guide (T10).  Ex: “My Dad is there for me at every major life Transition.  His experience and wisdom always helps me to make the right decisions.”  [Wilber makes little mention of the impact of Parenting – except implicitly as a source of certain Pathologies.]

[Modes T2 through T4 will be discussed in Installment 3 of AQAL, the Next Generation.]


Personal & Individual Guidance is the Guidance & Orchestration in the growth process we receive from Guides who we choose ourselves, or who work personally with us:

T5: LONG-TERM PARTNER.  A Long-term Partner or Spouse is the special person we choose to share our Journey through life.  As the relationship progresses, the couple develops (optimally) a deep mutual understanding, a steadfast and abiding trust, and a compassionate commitment to support and guide one another’s growth over the course of a lifetime.  Ex: “In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie relinquishes her dismissive prejudice, and Darcy subdues his snobbish pride.  When they finally resolve their character flaws, they’re ready for a happy marriage.”  [Wilber’s Grace and Grit is a moving testimonial to the power of this type of Guidance.]

[Modes T6 through T10 will be discussed in Installment 3 of AQAL, the Next Generation.]


Internal Guidance is the Guidance & Orchestration in the growth process we provide for ourselves:

T11: INTERNAL NAVIGATORThe Internal Navigator is the Guide we form within ourselves – by internalizing all the Guidance we receive from outside sources.  As we absorb and assimilate the various modes of Guidance discussed above (T1-10), we become progressively more independent, more self-sufficient, more self-regulating, more autonomous, more mature.  Ex: “Over the years, I’ve received Guidance from Parents, Teachers, Counselors, Support Groups, and innumerable Authorities.  By this point, I’ve absorbed and internalized all those external Guides, and am increasingly able to navigate my own course.”  [Wilber: implicit, but not specifically mentioned]

[Mode T12 will be discussed in Installment 3 of AQAL, the Next Generation.]




For a real-world journey, there are many different systems of transportation – highway systems, rail systems, airline systems, shipping systems, even stagecoach systems and pony express systems.  For instance, the shipping system includes all the ships, docks, routes, sailors, onshore personnel, and specialized technologies that make shipping possible. 

Likewise, progress from port to port in our Journey of Life is only possible because of highly specialized Systems of growth.  In technical language, a System of human development is a fundamental mechanism by which growth takes place.  Put another way, a System is a set of parameters that function together to move us along the Growth Continuum. 

There are eight different Systems that contribute to Human Development – each with its own set of Dimensions, Participants, Processes, and modes of Togetherness.  In this installment we first discuss the eight Systems as a whole.  Then we describe System 1 to illustrate how the various parameters function together to produce a particular kind of growth.[2]

Systems 1 through 8. HUMAN GROWTH.  The process of Human Growth can be described by four Domains: Dimensions, Participants, Processes, and Togetherness.  The Dimensions (D) are the eight areas of growth that comprise the Growth Continuum.  The Participants (P) are the seven aspects of Identity or Self that partake in the growth process.  The eight General Processes (PPR) and the 35 Specific Processes (PR) are the Methods and Techniques by which we move along the Growth Continuum.  The 12 Modes of Togetherness (T) are the means by which the whole growth process is Guided and Orchestrated.

Systems 1 through 8. THE LIFE JOURNEY.   Metaphorically, Human Growth is the archetypal Life Journey, or Human Odyssey.  This Journey through life uses a detailed Map (D) to take a set of Voyagers (P), on a Sailing Ship (PR), on perilous adventures to exotic destinations – with the assistance of a Navigator and a Captain (T).

System 1. INDIVIDUAL GROWTH.  The Stages (D1) and Transitions (D2) build upon one another to form a Developmental Sequence (D1+2).  The Developmental Sequence occurs within a variety of Arenas (D4) in each of four Realms (D3).  The Stages & Transitions are navigated by a Self System (P1), consisting of the Experienced & Observed Selves (P1a-b).  The Self System progresses from Stage to Stage by the mechanism of the Transition Cycle (PPR1).  A series of Transition Cycles comprise the General Process of Actualization Growth (PPR2 and System 3).  Individual Growth can be facilitated by any of 35 Specific Processes (PR1-35).  It can be Guided and Orchestrated by any of the 12 modes of Togetherness (T1-12).  The Individual Self (P2a) that experiences all this growth is constructed from 11 Functional Constituents (P6).

[Systems 2 through 8 will be discussed in Installment 2 of AQAL, the Next Generation.]




ADAPT sounds like a great new model.  But, why do we need such a model at all?  Why can’t we just use the Integral model Ken Wilber has already provided?  Because, in our view, Wilber’s system is no longer adequate to the task.  Ken Wilber’s model of Human Development is highly impressive and extremely valuable.  However, even his expanded IOS Model is not sufficiently inclusive, organized, balanced, differentiated, clear, consistent, unambiguous, explicit, complete, and correct.  If a model lacks any of these qualities, it is not adequate for the crucial, real-life applications of Integral Theory – for parenting, teaching, counseling, organizational consulting, academic research, or for orchestrating one’s own growth and self-improvement.

To substantiate these bold contentions, we have made meticulous parameter-by-parameter comparisons between Wilber’s IOS  and the ADAPT Model.  Of the total 215 comparisons, our analysis shows 116 points (categories 1-2, below) in which the two models are in total or substantial agreement – but at least 99 points (categories 3-12, below) where the two models offer significantly differing positions.  As we see it, those 99 divergent positions are especially deserving of further examination.  Further, of these 99 divergent points, there are 64 ADAPT positions where the authors have a Confidence level of 90% or better.  In other words, there are at least 64 positions where Wilber’s interpretation is most in doubt – and therefore most in need of re-consideration and revision. 

[Details of the differences between the ADAPT and Wilber will be discussed in Installments 3 and 4 of AQAL, the Next Generation and in our study The Fundamental Ken Wilber.]



THE EVOLUTION OF AQAL, VERSION ONE.  According to Brad Reynolds’ Embracing Reality (2004), Ken Wilber’s AQAL has evolved through five phases: 

{  Phase 1. The Spectrum of Consciousness (1973-77).  Outlined Stages and States of development from conception to enlightenment. 

{  Phase 2. Transition (1978-83).  Discovered the Pre/Trans Fallacy: Overthrew the ‘recaptured goodness’ or ‘return to Eden’ model of the Romantics. 

{  Phase 3. The Integral Vision (1983-94).  Created the first Integral model – consisting of three Dimensions (Levels, Lines, States) and one Participant (Self). 

{  Phase 4. The Four Quadrants & the Post-Modern Critique (1995-2000).  Added the Dimension of Quadrants, and applied the Quadrants to the misconceptions of Post-Modernism. 

{  Phase 5. Public Outreach (2000-on).  Began promoting the Integral revolution through education and training. 

These phases represent a series of upgrades to the basic conceptual software.  In these upgrades, the fundamental components remain intact -- and new features, emphases, and applications have been added.  It appears that AQAL Version One is now essentially complete.  Furthermore, Wilber’s long-promised, extended treatise on Integral Psychology has not come forth after more than ten years.  Therefore, we can assume that Wilber’s IOS is as complete as we can expect it to be.

WHY ADAPT IS THE NEXT AQAL.  However, as this presentation has demonstrated, the present versions of both AQAL and IOS are showing numerous signs of age – everything from annoying glitches to fundamental design flaws.   At this point, Integral Theory needs more than another upgrade.  It needs a new model that is thoroughly overhauled and radically reconceived.  The new model must overcome the glitches and flaws of the old system, encompass all known parameters, and rearrange those parameters in a new configuration that explains Human Development more clearly and completely.  That model is ADAPT.

There are eight major reasons why ADAPT is the appropriate choice as the basis for AQAL, Version Two:

{  All parameters.  ADAPT incorporates all the concepts and parameters Wilber considers important for explaining Human Growth. 

{  Extensive fine-tuning.  ADAPT extensively revises and fine-tunes Wilber’s positions on at least 99 points. 

{  Substantial improvement.  ADAPT significantly improves Wilber’s positions in at least 64 cases. 

{  New parameters.  ADAPT adds many new or substantially expanded parameters that are essential for a complete and comprehensive model. 

{  Unified configuration.  ADAPT organizes these many diverse parameters into a unified configuration of four Domains that is simple, elegant, and intuitively-obvious . 

{  Embodies the fundamental Archetype.  The validity and universality of the ADAPT Model is confirmed by its many parallels to the fundamental Archetype of Human Development – the Life Journey, or Human Odyssey. 

{  A better tool.  ADAPT is a substantially more effective device for applying Integral Theory to the practical concerns of Human Development.  ADAPT is a comprehensive and accurate blueprint for parenting, teaching, counseling, organizational consulting, and for orchestrating one’s own growth and self-improvement. 

{  Ken Wilber’s ADAPT.  Our final reason is a particularly telling one:  Look at the Circle Diagram ‘Ken Wilber’s ADAPT’ (Appendix 4).  As this diagram shows, Wilber’s own IOS Model is literally a highly-developed version of ADAPT itself.  That is, all the parameters of Wilber’s IOS are Dimensions, Participants, Processes, and modes of Togetherness of the ADAPT Model.  Therefore, at least implicitly, Wilber and the authors agree that ADAPT is the most satisfactory model.  The authors merely rearrange and fine-tune Wilber’s ADAPT for greater completeness and clarity.  Thus, in the authors’ estimation, ADAPT is the next AQAL, because ADAPT is in many ways the logical extension and completion of Wilber’s own work!

We are no match for the legendary Ken Wilber and his stellar array of colleagues.  However, as we see it, ADAPT is a clear improvement on the versions of Integral Theory most widely used today.

AQAL, THE NEXT GENERATION.  Ken Wilber is the Big Kahuna of Integral Theory.  Everything Integral that we have today, we owe to him.  However, as Ken once mused, “. . . When they lay me in the ground, the words I’d like engraved on my tombstone are, ‘He was right, but partial.’” As this presentation demonstrates, Wilber’s AQAL and IOS Models are both right, but partial.  Wilber’s pronouncements in the field of Human Growth are outstanding and impressive – but seriously limited and significantly incomplete.  Perhaps it’s time to give Wilber’s venerable and revered AQAL a new face-lift?  Maybe even a complete make-over?  Maybe we’re ready for Integral Operating System, Version Two.  Perhaps it’s time for AQAL, The Next Generation.



Explanations of the Circle Diagrams on the following pages.



This diagram displays the relationships among all the Domains, Systems, and major parameters of ADAPT. The four quadrants of the Diagram represent the four Domains; the eight concentric circles are the eight Systems of growth; the items within each circle are the parameters for that System; the items outside the circles pertain to all eight Systems.

As you study the Diagram, follow along in section 2, the Systems of ADAPT.  Read the Diagram one circle at a time, beginning with the inmost circle (System 1).  Start with the upper-left Dimensions quadrant, and move clockwise through the Participants, Processes, and modes of Togetherness for each System of growth. 

This ADAPT Diagram is intentionally more complex and densely-packed than Ken Wilber’s elegant and famous circle diagram for AQAL.  That’s because our Diagram incorporates more than two dozen major parameters – all the factors necessary for a comprehensive and complete understanding of Human Development.  By contrast, Wilber’s AQAL diagram covers only the two parameters of Perspectives [Quadrants] and Stages [Levels].

[Installment 1 of AQAL, the Next Generation covers only the inmost circle of this diagram.  The circles representing Systems 2 through 8 will be discussed in Installment 2.]



Ken Wilber’s expanded Integral Operating System (IOS) is actually a highly-developed (though incomplete) version of the ADAPT Model.  To demonstrate this, we present the ADAPT Circle Diagram of Appendix 3, with Wilber’s parameters substituted for our own.  The close correspondence between the two models shows that ADAPT is in many ways an extension and completion of Wilber’s own work.  [Brackets indicate parameters that are implicit in Wilber.]

[Installment 1 of AQAL, the Next Generation covers only the inmost circle of this diagram.  The circles representing Systems 2 through 8 will be discussed in Installment 2.]

(Explanation on previous page.  View left side up.)

Tekstvak: (Explanation on page before last.  View this side up.)Appendix 4: KEN WILBER’S ADAPT
(Explanation on previous page.  View left side up.)

Biographical Information

HUGH MARTIN is listed in Who’s Who in the World.  He has appeared on numerous talk shows, led seminars at many colleges and corporations, and spoken at numerous professional conferences and colloquia.  Mr. Martin is president of the California-registered investment advisory firm, Hugh Martin & Co, and past president of the FINRA-registered securities brokerage firm, Hugh Martin Securities.  Hugh is also a gifted life coach, and co-founder of Whole Life Counseling.

AMALIA KAYE MARTIN (‘Kaye’) is an early-education specialist with the Sonoma County Public Schools and a member of the Occidental, CA city council.  She is also a ‘clairvoyant’ life coach, a gifted natural medicine practitioner, a certified natural foods chef, an instructor in nutrition and natural medicine at Baumann College, a home-school coordinator, a dynamic community organizer, and a dedicated mother.

HUGH AND KAYE. Hugh and Kaye are best qualified as integral practitioners and theorists because they have lead integral lives.  Both have richly diverse backgrounds in a multitude of fields:

Į  Personal transformation: Esalen, group process, Gestalt, Reichian, Bioenergetics, Rolfing, yoga, Qi Gong, various religious and spiritual traditions.

Į  Natural medicine and health: Homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, organic nutrition, vibrational medicine.  Terminal cancer survivor (Hugh).  Expert practitioner in nutrition and natural medicine (Kaye)

Į  Artistic and creative expression: Nature photographer, documentary videographer, poet, painter/sculptor (Hugh).  School drama director, batik artist, home decorator (Kaye).

Į  Education: Ghetto school teacher, college literature instructor, financial seminar leader, early-reading curriculum developer (Hugh).  Nutrition/natural medicine instructor, home-school network developer and coordinator (Kaye).

Į  Societal change: Civil rights, environmental issues, sustainability/permaculture, city council, school board.

Į  Natural and cultural environments: Backpacking, mountain biking, gardening, exotic travel, home exchanging.

Į  Academics: Hugh -- Swarthmore College (B.A.), University of Pennsylvania (M.A.), Indiana University (doctoral), UC Berkeley (credential), Coaches Training Institute (CTI), member of Mensa.  Kaye -- Cal State Fullerton (B.A.), Baumann College (natural medicine), Coaches Training Institute (CTI).

Į  Marriage and family.  Thirty years of intimate, rapidly-evolving marriage.  Five highly-independent, multi-gifted children with close family ties. 

AK LANGUAGE ARTS.  Hugh & Kaye Martin are the originators and developers of Animal Kingdom (AK) Language Arts.  This highly-engaging, deeply experiential program is the first educational curriculum to apply Integral Theory to the full range of primary-grade language arts – phonetic reading, whole language, vocabulary & comprehension, spelling, grammar, handwriting, writing & composition, and spoken language.  Since learning to read is a child’s first formal cognitive experience, this subject is crucial for enabling young people to develop an integral worldview and a positive outlook on life.


HUGH & KAYE MARTIN.  707-874-9799.

[1] Special consideration: 1) Refinement, not replacement.  Our purpose here is to reconsider, refine, and expand Wilber’s admirable work – not to challenge, bash, or debunk, it.  Wilber is a titan on whose shoulders all our efforts stand.  2) Human Development onlyADAPT is a model of Human Development, while AQAL is part of a more general model of the structure of reality.  Our comparisons here pertain only to Wilber’s positions in the field of Human Development. 3) Collaborative effort.  The ADAPT Model presented here represents a working hypothesis intended to initiate dialog, not to proclaim a definitive conclusion.  Any valid revision of Wilber’s model will ultimately require the collaborative efforts of many authorities on the Integral worldview.  4) Abbreviated and simplified.  This presentation is a radical condensation of a projected two-semester graduate-level course.  Explanations of each concept are necessarily abbreviated, simplified, and schematized.  Wilber’s positions sometimes only approximate the ADAPT parameters they are compared to.  5) Resources for study.  For more detailed explanations of each ADAPT concept, refer to our series of studies on (see Appendix 1).  6) Terms.  Terms defined in those studies are Capitalized throughout this article.  7) Parameters.  Parameters are designated with letters based on their Domains: D (or DD) = Dimensions; P = Participants; PR (or PPR) = Processes; and T = Togetherness.

[2] As you read this section, you may wish to follow along on the ADAPT Circle Diagram, Appendix 3.