Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (SES)

Chris Desser

Ken Wilber's Sex, Ecology, Spirituality ("SES") is an important book arriving at a critical moment. More than a remarkable synthesis of the evolution of Indo European philosophical, psychological, sociological, and scientific ideas, SES cogently makes the case that the integration of various differentiated realms--science, art, and morality; male and female; ecology, technology and spirituality; I, we, and it--is the central task for this fractured, postmodern time, indeed that evolution and our survival depend on our success.

My own endeavors and interests traverse similar territory (i.e., spirituality, psychology, philosophy, ecology) and encompass similar concerns (exploring and understanding the opportunities for, and conditions necessary to, evolving toward ever greater levels of consciousness). As an environmentalist I have encountered the "flatland" mentality of many environmental activists and thinkers. I also meditate (vipassana) and in the last couple of years have spent a lot of time on retreat. I find the exclusively "ascended" perspective of vipassana troubling, but the practice of great value. Recently I have been grappling with how to reconcile--or integrate--the "descended" nature of my work with the "ascended" nature of my practice. I have been frustrated by the inability of participants in those two realms to understand the importance of the other (this problem is succinctly summarized by Wilber at p. 521). Thus I read SES with particular interest, noting questions and observations along the way. (All the page numbers refer to SES.)

Although my work has been in the realm of environmental activism, my concern is the evolution of consciousness. I have focused on the environment for two reasons: first, because I believe that without an ecologically in tact planet, there won't be a place from which human consciousness can evolve (this is where we live now; or as Wilber puts it "destruction of the biosphere guarantees destruction of the noosphere" (p. 94)); second, because environmental degradation is causing significant harm and suffering and I feel compelled to help alleviate that, however modestly.

My background includes undergraduatehood at Berkeley in the early seventies. I studies philosophy (Searle, Feyerabend, Dreyfuss, etc.), linguistics, cognition and rhetoric (the department where structuralism and semiotics lived). My interest in these subjects remains unabated and integral to my thinking about the work I do. Rarely, however, do I meet anyone who understands the relevance of these matters to ecology or activism. Few people understand environmentalism in terms of the continuing evolution of consciousness or spirit. And I do not often encounter writers and thinkers who meaningfully connect these dots. From this perspective it was both exciting and a relief to read SES because it ameliorated a sort of intellectual isolation that I experience when I try to talk about my work in a comprehensive context or why I do it.

It is also germane that, for the past five years I have been quite committed to psychoanalysis. The woman I work with is a Jungian, but not doctrinal about it. "Therapy" and "adaptation" were not my goals in embarking on this endeavor. Rather, I was and remain interested in the potential of my own cognitive and spiritual development and I am committed to living life as meaningfully and authentically as possible. The unfolding of the process has been fascinating and quite unexpected.

From The Eco Perspective

I believe the evolution of consciousness (or spirit, as Wilber discusses it in terms of Schelling at pp. 486-93) depends on ecological sustainability. Sustainability, however can only be achieved if people come to understand the interrelationship and interconnectedness of life on this planet and modify their behavior accordingly (this obviously entails individual development of the Basic Moral Intuition (p. 612) and, thus, each person's own evolution). As an activist I have been interested in creating contexts or frames of reference within which this development can occur without running into the limitations of some deep ecology approaches.

The reason that I believe sustainability, which entails maintaining ecosystemic integrity, is so important is not based on some "web of life theory," but precisely because, nature is both evidence of Nature, and, for many, a way into it (which Wilber also recognizes at p. 471). My own earliest experience of spirit or Nature (and "kosmos") were (and continue to be but are not exclusively) through unmediated experiences in nature. This body and this planet provide the means and opportunity for coming to consciousness. While there may be other ways and means of accessing spirit or Nature, right now they all require a place and a body so it seems unwise to destroy them.

In addition, of course, we depend upon nature in the biospheric sense for our very survival and as a reminder that we do not live in entirely human constructed realms, which can seem to be the case in these mall-proliferating times. Humans may have more depth and complexity than trees, carrots and dirt, but the things that humans fabricate generally do not. And those things are reducing the complexity of the biosphere (rendering species extinct and diminishing biodiversity as we destroy temperate and tropical rain forests, eliminating top soil in favor of condos and development, poisoning air and water with pollution and effluent, etc.) thereby impairing prospects for our healthy survival (and evolution) as well as the survival (and evolution) of the other (more "fundamental") things ("holons") that comprise the biosphere and support our (more "significant") existence.

As one way of heightening public awareness about the importance of complexity and biodiversity to human survival and evolution, I have been developing a project which links communities based upon the migratory species that pass through them. It is a way, perhaps, to help achieve that "integrative mode of awareness that will integrate the biosphere and noosphere in a higher and deeper union" (p 169) because the seasonal migrations of many species simply and effectively illustrate the interconnectedness and interdependence of life on this planet and the whole/part nature of things.

People live within a local ecosystem that is whole and has intrinsic value in and of itself, not merely as a "strand in the wonderful web." The whales or butterflies or birds that pass through comprise an integral part of that ecosystem. At the same time, however, those creatures are similarly "parts" of and integral to the other ecosystems along the migratory route (or nectar corridor or web--however the path is called or defined) and thus, the "part" nature of a particular ecosystem is also obvious, as well as the fact that the corridor, or route is more "significant" (biospherically) in that it encompasses more as a system and at a higher level, while each place along the way is more "fundamental" in that the route requires it for its integrity (and viable functioning). In any event, it begins to be a way to develop an awareness of the need for an environmental ethics that is based on rights and relationships (not unlike what Wilber advocates at pp. 517-20) because if any place along the route is despoiled, the whole route is imperiled.

In addition to understanding the ecological (biospheric) context of a particular species, the project also emphasizes the place of that creature (holon) in the noosphere. It encourages people to investigate and understand the cultural (LL, using Wilber's quadrants), artistic (UL) and social (LR) manifestations of a species in the various communities along the route, i.e., how has that bird or that butterfly or that fish appeared in the art, music, and spirituality of a people and a place? How has that creature fit into the economy of a place? The project then encourages people to look beyond their own place and ask those questions of the other places along the route. This necessarily involves contact with other people in other places. At every level atomism (wholeness) leads to relationship (partness), and (one hopes), and understanding of whole/partness and "sliding contexts". My hope is that an understanding of commonality along a shared migratory corridor will emerge and give rise to the "healing impulse…that comes from championing not [merely] functional fit (Lower Right) but mutual understanding (Lower left(Left?? CT)) and interior qualitative distinctions (Upper Left)." (p. 148).

The project began to take shape a couple of years ago as I stood by Lake Yam Drok Tso, one of the most sacred lakes in Tibet, and watched the ongoing construction of a Chinese hydroelectric power plant adjacent to it. The plant is expected to cause the lake to drop about seven inches a year over the next fifty years. Tibetan spiritual tradition holds that if and when Yam Drok Tso evaporates, the whole of Tibet will perish. In addition to the spiritual implications of this desecration for Tibetans, this drop will have significant environmental consequences and local weather patterns will be affected. Substantial water loss is likely to lower rainfall in the area damaging the barley crops, the staple food of Tibet.

Dam construction at Yam Drok Tso is but one of myriad examples indicating not only how destruction of the physiosphere leads to destruction of the biosphere which, in turn, leads to destruction of the noosphere; but also how some cultural and spiritual traditions tied to and arising out of place have at some level, understood those relationships (even if they arose out of a "magical indissociative" world view (p. 166)). It thus illustrates Wilber's point that "the fact that human culture can consciously accord with the biosphere (living conditions) or deviate from it shows precisely that culture is not in all ways the same thing as the biosphere--it is differentiated from it in some significant ways, even though it depends upon it for its own existence…" (p. 525). Indigenous Tibetan culture arose (was "created," p. 654) out of relationship to place (which is not the same as regarding culture as "a product of" or "simply" nature, pp. 610-11). Moreover, consciously (or intentionally or "rationally") or not, Tibetans lived in "dynamic equilibrium" in a sere and unforgiving environment. These ecological, cultural and spiritual contexts of Yam Drok Tso do not exist for (or are not recognized by or are ignored by) the Chinese government. Its "culture" reflects a purely "instrumental" and extremely fragmented view in a narrow context--a source of electrical power to facilitate growth and development at any cost (talk about flatland mentality…).

I considered what could be done to prevent the Chinese government from continuing with the project (squarely facing the issue of how to persuade a nation to "voluntarily [surrender] some of [its] sovereignty for the global betterment" (p. 200)). China has demonstrated its immunity to arguments based on desecrating sacred and spiritual places, preserving cultural integrity and protecting human rights, and it has no record of concern about environmental preservation (quite the opposite). It struck me, however, that many of the ducks and birds that are seasonal residents of Yam Drok Tso, live other places at other times of year and are integral to those ecosystems. I wondered how this power plant would affect their migrations. It occurred to me that the other places that would be affected along the route could form a coalition to stop the project, arguing that regardless of issues of national sovereignty, the Chinese government has no right to engage in activities that have an environmentally deleterious impact on places beyond China's borders. I began to think about the potential for preserving biodiversity, cultural diversity and indigenous spiritual traditions through the mechanism of organizing along migratory routes.

In addition to fomenting environmental awareness and activism, the project aims to encourage the tolerant planetary pluralism advocated by Wilber (p. 201). It seeks to preserve the multiplicity (as opposed to the homogenization) of global cultures since the geographic span of a particular migratory route will encompass diverse cultures and traditions. It further seeks to develop the understanding that cultural (and often spiritual) expression arises out of relationship to a specific place (and comprises part of what makes the society of that place "unique and special" (p. 175)). I am not speaking of some romanticized, bell-jar approach to the preservation of indigenous culture. Cultures, like humans, must evolve. But the increasing globalization of the planet, embodied by GATT and NAFTA (examples of what Wilber refers to as the "modern form" of "ecological ignorance". i.e., "The free market will save us" (p. 168)) and the homogenization that globalization entails, will diminish biodiversity and cultural diversity and this loss of complexity will be ecologically (and, therefore, evolutionarily) devastating.

This project thus embodies much of what Wilber discusses in SES and aims to catalyze the kind of awareness necessary to address what he calls the "real problem," i.e., "how to get people to internally transform …to a worldcentric consciousness…that can grasp the global dimensions of the problem…and eagerly embrace global solutions" (p. 518, see also, pp. 199-201) by encouraging them to understand the comprehensive ramifications of their actions and locate them as whole/parts in a global context (among others). It is a way to help people begin to understand that no place is as important as the place where they live (wholeness), except… every other place (partness), and that all places are evidence of Nature (again, completely consistent with, and illustrative of, Wilber's environmental ethics as summarized at pp. 517-19).

Thus, this project does not seek to perpetuate "flatland monological and instrumental reasoning" by reducing place to nothing more than "a mutually subserving strand" in the "flatland web of life" (p. 424-25). Rather, it seeks to develop the very interiority and depth missing in such thinking by helping people understand the multiple contexts in which we exist and emphasizing the intrinsic value (ecologically, culturally, spiritually) of every place along the route (whole), as well as the extrinsic value of every place to the rest of the route (necessary part). In concept and design it strives to "take monological nature up and into dialogical culture and [somehow, but this is the hard part to design into activism] then take both nature and culture up and into translogical Spirit." (p. 516).

Okay, that kind of locates me and my reading of SES in the eco realm. Next I offer some considerations of SES with regard to my experiences in the realm of spirit.

From the Spirit Perspective

So, there I was, minding my own business as an enviro and having more or less "spiritual" or "transcendent" experiences in the natural world, but still basically a secular humanist and I was invited to participate in a vipassana retreat for environmentalists with Joseph Goldstein and Carol Wilson. This was about two years ago. I went, believing that they were not serious about silence for ten days--surely that was hyperbole--and proceeded to have my mind utterly blown. Not so much by the dharma talks (which were very good and skillfully delivered), but by my own extremely unexpected, and initially somewhat discomfiting, if not downright frightening, experiences and insights. These included direct experience of ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny; my body moving in non-volitional ways ( I was completely unprepared for that); my body disintegrating, etc. One of those insights was, that as far as creating a context in which an understanding of interdependence and interconnectedness might arise, this experience (vipassana meditation) seemed unsurpassed. To use Wilber's words, "going within" indeed entailed "going beyond" and revealed a "higher and deeper commonality," (pp. 18, 45, 257-58,) which, I think, does enhance one's ability to a (delete "a"?? CT) "embrace the deeper and wider context" (p. 73). Anyway, it did mine, so I delved deeply into meditation.

Vipassana meditation, however, is not without its limitations. It often feels (and Theravadin Buddhist discourse seems to reinforce) extremely disembodied and sensory and sensuality experience denying. As Wilber point outs (points out?? CT), it is a very ascended approach (his analysis helped me to clarify my dissatisfaction with it). Nevertheless, my experience has reinforced the value of the practice (or methodology) as a way of accessing other levels of consciousness. It has therefore seemed important to me to attempt to synthesize what I "know" as an experiencer of Nature through nature ("descended") and what I "know" as an experiencer of Nature through meditation ("ascended"). Unfortunately, as Wilber notes (p. 255) the eco crowd tends to have a "flatland" mentality when it comes to spirit and often an inability to hold paradox--or to paraphrase Wilber, an insufficient ability to employ vision logic to hold contradictions, unify opposites, think in a dialectical and nonlinear fashion, and weave together incompatible notions in a higher holon (p. 185). On the other hand, the spiritual crowd for the most part does not experience nature in a visceral way. Thus, Wilber's explication and analysis of these two paths and his understanding that "it is in the integration of the Ascending and Descending paths that the Nondual awareness flashes" (p. 348) was a lucid and welcome expression of the synthesis I have been ruminating about.

While continuing to meditate, I decided to explore the possibility of synthesis in other ways of accessing consciousness, including plant medicine and Stan Grof's breathwork. The plant (and amphibian) medicine was interesting, and reminiscent of earlier days of experimentation, but I experienced no epiphanies (although some paranoia, which, in retrospect is amusing, but was not at the time) and no realizations that have had a significant impact on my thinking or lasting impact upon my life.

I found the breathwork disappointing, and I have many questions about the process and the methodology. Admittedly, my experience is limited. I attended only one of Grof's workshops (with Christina Grof and Jack Kornfield) in the Yucca Valley. My experience was similar to what happens when I sit (bright energy, dissolution of self, apprehension of rapid arising and passing away of sensory experience in awareness, etc.). I found myself doing yoga (not a regular practice of mine), with great flexibility (which I attributed to hyper oxygenated blood flowing through my muscles). I ended up sitting (metta mediation spontaneously arose, perhaps in response to the pain and suffering all around me. I felt like I was on a Civil War battlefield).

To summarize my concerns, I think that Grof pays insufficient attention to the environment within which the breathwork occurs and its influence upon the participants. (I think that this is similar to Wilber's objection that Grof fails to consider the "processes and intersubjective structures necessary for the experiences to be able to unfold at all" (p. 745), which I took to mean within the individual subject, rather than the context). Several things struck me. For one, I noted the highly impressionable nature of the participants (I can't say if this is inherent in their psychological make-up or a result of hyperventilation). On the day after Grof's lecture about the basic perinatal matrices, a significant number of "breathers" seemed to have experiences right out of those BPMs, yet the day before, that had not been the case. Second, people's experience also seemed to correlate strongly with the music that Christina Grof was spinning. African tribal drumming brought up images of Africa; rainforest sounds brought up images on insects; religious chanting had some women envisioning themselves as witches burning at the stake. Third, the environment itself seems to create a "mob" mentality. With so many people writhing, screaming and otherwise emoting, I think others were influenced to behave similarly. All this may be part of the process, but I think that the effect of these factors should be acknowledged.

In addition, I was surprised by Grof's apparent lack of interest in the larger social dynamic in the room. When I was the sitter, I was struck by the complex relationships in the hall--between sitter and breather, sitter and everyone else in the room, breather and everyone else in the room, sitter and Grof's assistants, etc. Also, Grof seemed uninterested in measuring before and after effects. For example, lots of people reported feeling a deep connection to the planet after the breathwork, but what was their relationship to the planet before? Has the same effect been reported by those who previously felt estranged or nothing at all? In short, I have many questions about the breathwork.

Other Issues, Questions and Observations

Wilber's book raises lots of other issues and questions, many of which he apparently intends to consider in the next two volumes (I am quite anxious to hear of his evidence for the collective emergence of the integral-aperspectival mind). In the meanwhile, here are some further observations and questions that seem worth pursuing:

What do varying levels of individual development suggest about how to go about the business of social change, i.e., the synthesis or art, science and morality that Wilber feels is the primary task of post modernism and the creation of a pervasive worldcentric view, (pp. 392-394)? And, how do you transcend the cultural average level mode of translation? How do you bring about that "internal transformation?" I agree with Wilber that it cannot be "taught," (p. 515), it seems fundamentally experiential. Can such experience (whatever it may be) be enfolded into activism?

The concepts of "boundary," "context," and "witness" are important and related. At one level, boundaries seem wholly arbitrary to and serve primarily as ways of delineating stuff into meaningful bundles and the meaningfulness of those bundles depends on their context. I am intrigued with the concept of "witness" or "disinterested observer" because I generally occupy that ground (even as I am engaged in what is going on), standing "outside" the boundary as it were. It provides a good vantage point for objectively analyzing a state of affairs and getting "the big picture," (kind of like that "objectification" required to move to the next level of cognitive development) but it also exacerbates alienation from the mainstream. At the same time, I have an awareness that I am bounded by something (some context), even at the outer valence at which I stand. (This perspective caused me to question structuralism right off the bat, much the same way Wilber does at numerous places throughout his text, see for example p. 552.) In any event, it makes the question of ultimate witness/emptiness (p. 498) extremely compelling.

An understanding of cultural stages or world views seems invaluable for effective leadership (pp. 149-52, 566-67 and Chapter 5). Does Clinton's failure (or anyone's) as a leader reflect a lack of understanding of the determining factors and predominating worldview of this epoch? (With his repeated evocations of JFK he seems to be attempting, unsuccessfully, a mythic approach.) Does Gingrich's success evince a deeper understanding of them (actually I don't think so--his politics looks like tribalism in modern dress to me, an "exploit[ation] [of] the technical powers of rationality in service of a moral response less than worldcentric--less than universal pluralism, less than mutual understanding in a discourse of tolerance and recognition: power to my ego, my tribe, my culture--using the extremely sophisticated tools of a hijacked rationality," p. 663)? Can politics only follow anyhow?

Wilber states that we now stand "on the verge of a planetary transformation, struggling to be secured by rationality and completed by vision logic, and embedded in global-planetary social institutions" (p. 199). Given this context, and what is at stake (i.e., survival) we must be especially mindful of how these "global-planetary social institutions" are constructed. We have no good models right now.

Multinational corporations are global institutions, but they hardly embody pluralistic, compassionate vision logic--rather they are often examples of dominator hierarchies (p. 23) that flatten the economic landscape by destroying smaller holons, i.e., local businesses, with significant political, social cultural and ecological as well as economic consequences. The United Nations, until recently has been a weak and ineffectual bureaucracy, and the jury is still out. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (singularly undemocratic institutions) have promoted rampant international development, funding the building of dams and the razing of forests at great environmental cost. The new World Trade Organization created to implement GATT and NAFTA (and, arguably to support those above-mentioned multinational corporations) will promote the growth and consumption based economic policies (the cause of many of the ecological and social problems facing the planet) embodied in those agreements.

These global economic institutions which, for some, represent "progress," are likely to urbanize the world, creating more poverty as they sanction the destruction of sustainable indigenous villages in favor of industrialized towns; reduce the opportunity for local self reliance as traditional communities and small farms give way to factories and agribusiness, and eliminate, along with trade barriers, options for local self determination for those who would choose a different way to live. The potential loss of biodiversity and cultural diversity that could result (and already has) from the lending policies and governance of these institutions is huge and would be tragic. The behavior of these institutions, it seems to me, often embodies the pathology of domination hierarchies (p. 23).

There is thus, a strong role for smaller, globally linked, bioregionally based institutions operating out of rational vision logic. The key is scaling the institution to the issue or problem it is charged with governing. Decentralization, when combined with effective communication, readily accessible information and a democratic sensibility (precisely what computer technology and the internet offer, which Wilber notes at p. 197) seems preferable to me.

Wilber cites Robert Kaplan's, "The Coming Anarchy" in the February 1994 Atlantic (note 48 at pp. 582-83) regarding the current "retribalization of large portions of the world" (p. 201). While Kaplan's account may be accurate, his analysis is troubling for some of the following reasons. (1) Despite the bloody route to him, Kaplan optimistically envisions the "the (the "emergence **or** "the emergence?? CT) emergence of a racially hybrid, globalized man." Kaplan's perspective fails to understand the importance of biodiversity at all levels and the value of preserving a diversity of cultures on the planet. His view is monocultural rather than pluralistic. (2) Kaplan fails to acknowledge a significant source of the current turmoil (in West Africa anyway, which is the subject of the article). i.e., western European colonialism which exploited the indigenous people and natural resources, enriching the colonizing countries (France, for example), while contributing mightily to the current "environmental and demographic stresses," significant causal factors in the current problems (so much for the panacea of the "penetration of Western Enlightenment"). This seems to me an apt example of the consequences of the pathology of "dominator hierarchies" an illustration of the regression that can occur as a result of repression. (3) I do not understand why "state warfare" is necessarily more noble or better than "tribal warfare" which is strongly implied. Binding conventions or not, states, and the individuals fighting for them commit pretty hideous atrocities, witness, for example US. behavior in Vietnam, Guatemala, etc. Unfortunately "statehood" is no guarantee of "universal perspectivism." Bigger is not necessarily better or more visionary, and one can easily imagine "tribes" holding a "universal perspective."

Wilber buries in a footnote an extremely important and provocative assertion (prediction?): "The new global religion(s) will be at home in contemplative awareness, but awareness that also speaks naturally and natively a digital language of the silicon chip and sees itself as clearly in virtual reality as in the play of the wind and the rain; its global perspective and universal pluralism will be taken for granted, and Spirit will move through circuits of fiber optic as well as through flesh and blood; and all of that will be natural, and normal, and alive: and from within that global network the new voices of transcendence will begin to attract those sensitive to the Divine. From within the informational neural network of a global commons will come the voices indicating liberation." (pp. 580-581.) I hope so, but I would sure like to see some evidence for it.

The integration of nature, Nature (Spirit), ecology and technology is, obviously, since it is a central topic of SES, one of the more challenging problems before us. For many, virtual reality threatens to obviate experience with natural reality and, perhaps, distort appropriate responses to the events that occur in the natural world. (How strange that we now need a prefix or a modifier to distinguish non-virtual reality from virtual reality. I was recently attacked en masse by a bunch of techies for referring to conventional--or whatever--reality as "real" reality. I won't make that mistake again!) Many environmentalists are neo-luddites and uncomfortable with Spirit, so Wilber's vision, integrating the two, may be especially incendiary). In any event, this point is a very significant one and deserves greater elucidation, I hope that Wilber will expand on it in volume 2 when he discusses "the role of the techno-economic base in the stages of human evolution (and the construction of various worldviews)," (p. 656).

Although the electronic media need not have a "flattening" effect, it seems to because it is a primary agent in the homogenizing of culture. Ladahki teenagers watch M-TV and wear Levis and Raybans. What impact does/can the media have in bringing about a centauric epoch? This question is obviously related to the one above and I hope that it will be addressed in volume 2 vis a vis the role of the techno-economic base in the stages of human evolution.

It is interesting that in contemplative states, which are experiences of depth, not surface (left side, not right side), there is only bare experience or "knowing" or "awareness." This occurs within the individual meditator without the "interpretation" which characterizes the depth aspect of the quadrants. (This, more or less apropos of note 16, pp. 604-05.)

Wilber's definition of art as "anything with a frame around it" (p. 650), while not central to the book, is nevertheless provocative because it has nothing (necessarily) to do with the intention of the creator of the thing that's framed only with the "framer" of it who may or may not be the creator. So it is the "framing" or objectification that is the defining act, not the intent of the "artist." It is a very "high concept" approach.

Wilber does not explore the practices of Native Americans or, indeed any practices or philosophies outside the Indo European tradition in SES. (Vision fasting, for example, seems to embody the integration of ascended and descended spirituality. The individual goes out alone to seek wisdom, knowledge, whatever, in order to bring it back to the community.) Thus, while Wilber rationally tolerates a variety of worldviews and advocates pluralism and a "planetary perspective" (pp. 203-04 tolerance), the omission of any contributions from outside the Indo European tradition seems a gap worth addressing.

Conclusion

The synthesis of activism, spirit and philosophies of social change is one of the most important integrations facing us right now. Sex, Ecology, Spirituality as a rich and creative resource, both theoretically and practically, can inform that integration. Traditional means of political and social organizing are failing because they are usually rooted in polarizing "us versus them" paradigms. Anger or anomie seems to characterize people's response to current social, ecological and political problems. Wilber's visions of the "bodymind integration of the centaur anchored in worldcentric vision-logic" can provide a different way of thinking about activism and politics, one that is consistent with the new epoch that we would like to bring about.

Christina Desser has been involved with environmental issues for many years as an attorney and an organizer. Currently she is Project Director for the Migratory Species Project. Previously she was the executive director of Earth Day 1990 and a co-founder of the Muir Investment Trust. She has served as an advisor to, or board member of, many environmental and progressive organizations and foundations including Rainforest Action Network, Whole Earth Review, Mother Jones Magazine, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, and Spirit Rock Meditation Center.