7/21 — Integral and Prosocial, Integral Spirituality and Prosocial Spirituality

Kurt Johnson David Sloan Wilson Paul W.B. Atkins and Jeffrey Genung

Kurt Johnson, David Sloan Wilson, Paul W. B. Atkins and Jeffrey Genung

Kurt Johnson
David Sloan Wilson
Paul W.B. Atkins
Jeffrey Genung

Ken Wilber is, of course, noted as the founder of the Integral Vision and author of 25 books translated into over 30 languages. He is often called “the Einstein of consciousness studies”. Dr. David Sloan Wilson is one of the world’s most noted evolutionary biologists, a pioneer of “Group” and “Multi-level” natural selection theory from which comes both an understanding of how prosociality (defined as any behavior, attitude, or organization oriented toward the welfare of others or one’s group as a whole) evolves. He is the author of several foundational books on this subject[1], co-founder of Prosocial World and, with Paul W. B. Atkins and Steven C. Hayes co-author of Prosocial: Using Evolutionary Science to Build Productive, Equitable, and Collaborative Groups.[2] 

Wilber and Wilson have co-produced a number of discussions concerning Integral, current evolutionary theory and the constructs of Prosocial World (which include the Nobel Prize winning design principles of Elinor Ostrom).[3] The purpose of this article is to provide more details about the interactions of Wilber and Wilson and also provide some succinct introductory comparisons of the major content of these two synergetic and complementary worldviews. From these we hope more detailed and critical discussions can evolve in the future. We assume that readers of ILR are already well informed concerning Integral and Integral Spirituality, likely less so with Prosocial and Prosocial Spirituality. This further tempers the content and approach of our contribution. Wilber has stated “The Coming Interspiritual Age is … about just that— the emergence, happening now and gaining momentum—of an interspiritually unified world. It has its basis in a background coming transformation— that of the Integral Age.”[4]  We similarly assume that the Prosocial-Integral discussion is also a part of this unfolding Integral Age. 

Wilson and Wilber first met on the occasion of the 2015 “Self Care to Earth Care Conference” held in Denver, Colorado, for which they were both key speakers. This was shortly after the publication of Dr. Wilson’s book Does Altruism Exist?  Culture, Genes and the Welfare of Others, the first is a series on the Foundational Questions in Science from Yale/Templeton. Dr. Wilson appeared personally and Ken Wilber by video. Wilber’s video, which directly refers in numerous places to Dr. Wilson’s work has since had over 255,000 views on YouTube under the title “An Introduction to Integral Spirituality”.[5]  Wilson and Wilber met personally that same weekend for a long personal discussion at Wilber’s loft in Denver. They later cooperated in an extensive audio discussion broadcast on Integral Life.[6] Therein they emphasized the importance of this cross-discussion for both the integral community and “mainstream academia”, especially if it could be developed and updated with as many current elements of contemporary academic, scientific and philosophical discussion as possible. They gave several examples of such “updating”, especially emphasizing current studies in cognitive science and contextual behavioral science, which could influence views and understandings of cultural behavior and cultural evolution. These are all relevant to any developmental view of process and history. Paul Atkins recently referenced this same synergy saying (pers. comm.) “in my opinion, what we are doing in Prosocial puts some of integral on even a stronger evidential footing.”

The development of “Prosocial Spirituality” furthers the interplay of Integral and Prosocial. The inclusion of Br. Wayne Teasdale’s “Nine Elements of a Universal Spirituality” as core Prosocial Spirituality principles historically connects both (i) the historical discussions of Wilber and Teasdale towards the end of Teasdale life and (ii) the integral framework acknowledged in Kurt Johnson and David Robert Ord’s The Coming Interspiritual Age, which were also discussed on public audio by Wilber and Johnson. To review in short, the noted discussions of Teasdale and Wilber are remembered as one of the last public appearances in Teasdale’s life. Four comprehensive elements from Teasdale’s now classic book The Mystic Heart:  Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the Worlds Religions, joined the 2006 work of Fr. Thomas Keating and colleagues in what is now recognized internationally as the five elements of “The Interspiritual Declaration”. Our endnotes summarize these succinctly especially from the most recent international publication which includes both the five elements of “The Interspiritual Declaration” (including extensive reference to Integral) and a brief concise statement therein regarding Integral Theory itself.[7]

The Integral and Prosocial Discussion

The primary subjects of the ongoing discussion between Ken Wilber, and Integral, and David Sloan Wilson, and Prosocial, include the following major contexts. 

A brief statement concerning the implications of “Group” and “Multi-level” natural selection would be: 

Survival of the fittest is true, but the definition of fitness changes as systems complexify, and also when there is any organism acting from conscious choice. In those contexts, the definition of fitness changes from the best competitor to the best cooperator. 

Data sets that corroborate “Group” and “Multi-level Selection” show this to be true, as now widely embraced by mainstream evolutionary biology. As Wilber and Wilson emphasized in their recorded discussions it is the reality of “Group” and “Multi-Level” natural selection that opens up whole new vistas in understanding the evolution of the developmental levels elaborated in Integral Theory.

Another aspect of their discussion, and brought up further by Wilson in more recent discussions[8] is the efficacy of the Four Quadrant view of Integral Theory—how we experience reality in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Person (and 3rd Person plural), and the relation of this to the structure of most human languages. As Wilson observed in the above discussions– along with many others but with Wilson particularly to the mainstream, mostly reductionist, scientific community– the lst and 2nd Quadrants (our more “Inner Experience” contexts) are often not included directly within mainstream scientific consideration. Mainstream reductionist science tends to limit itself to the 3rd and 4th Quadrants– the Quadrants of external experience where testability, repeatability etc. pertain. Wilber has often called this tendency in mainstream science “the 3rd Quadrant (testable experience) fixation” while also acknowledging the spiritual community often tends toward “1st Quadrant (direct experience) fixation.”  Especially with regard to science’s evolving understanding of the nature and profound importance of symbolic language in human culture Wilson has noted, as does Wilber, that the Quadrants have a very “permeable” relationship and, while also being aware of the integrity of the modalities governing the different “universes of discourse” in the Quadrants, mainstream science must further explore the inter-relationship and permeability of these complementary experiences and understandings of reality. As Wilber has often said of reality “It is an all-Quadrant Experience, all the time”.

Although discussions between Wilber and Wilson available to the public to date have elaborated these and numerous other topics, there has been no succinct general description of the underlying worldviews of Prosocial and Integral which characterize Wilber and Wilson’s synergetic and complementary visions. This is the purpose of this article for the Integral Leadership Review. We hope it can serve as an historical background and template for future more critical and detailed discussion.

Prosocial is itself an example of cultural evolution. In addition to Wilson’s seminal contributions, Atkins co-founded Prosocial World with Wilson, and has made major contributions both in the operationalization of the framework with groups, and in its intellectual development based upon his expertise in behavioral psychology, Steven C. Hayes co-developed the contextual behavioral science approach that underpins the model, Kevin Polk and his colleagues developed the ACT matrix tool discussed at length in this article while Jeff Genung and others have led efforts to build Prosocial Spirituality, not to mention innumerable community members who have also contributed significantly to the development of the method.


Prosocial is four things: a body of thinking, a practical process, a research agenda and a growing community of practitioners. Here we focus on the former two of these, Prosocial’s perspective upon cultural evolution and the practical tools it uses to help accelerate cultural evolution toward a more harmonious, cooperative and equitable world.

Prosocial as a Body of Thinking

Prosocial draws upon three main bodies of work: multilevel selection (MLS) theory, Elinor Ostrom’s Nobel prize-winning work on the commons, and Contextual Behavioral Science. MLS theory contributes the general idea of evolution as variation, selection and retention at multiple levels and in multiple streams including genetic, epigenetic, behavioral and cultural evolution. In this respect, there is some consilience with integral theory. There is now a growing consensus that cooperation is at least as strong a force in evolution as competition, and selection does not just occur at the level of the individual. More cooperative groups are more likely to succeed and spread their practices than less cooperative groups. According to MLS, this creates a selection pressure for altruism provided that the conditions are right.

Ostrom’s work on the commons provides an insight into the conditions that are generally supportive of group-level selection. A political scientist by training, she shared a Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009 for work exploring “The Tragedy of the Commons” and elaborating the principles of how communities can be more or less successful managing common pool resources. She developed 8 design principles that were then elaborated by Atkins, Wilson and Hayes (2019) as follows:

  1. Shared identity and purpose
  2. Equitable distribution of contributions and benefits
  3. Fair and inclusive decision making
  4. Monitoring agreed behaviors
  5. Graduated responding to helpful and unhelpful behavior
  6. Fast and fair conflict resolution
  7. Authority to self-govern (according to principles 1–6)
  8. Collaborative relations with other groups (using principles 1–7)

According to Wilson et al (2013) these 8 core design principles describe the conditions needed to suppress disruptive competition among individuals within groups, so that the group becomes the primary unit of selection. More colloquially, we can understand these 8 design principles, when implemented effectively in a group, as supporting action on behalf of the group rather than on behalf of the individual.

The final core body of evidence and theory informing Prosocial is Contextual Behavioral Science (CBS). This is a relatively new term for the study of human behavior in the context of everyday life with the aim of prediction and influence (practical objectives) in addition to basic scientific understanding. It draws upon the traditions of Pragmatism, Behaviorism, Cognitive and Mindfulness training, and the population-level disciplines of Prevention Science and Public Health. See Wilson and Hayes (2018) for a recent volume that integrates CBS and Evolutionary Science. 

CBS is a pragmatic approach to behavior change built upon a view of the mind as an evolved phenomenon based in the behavior of relating one thing to another. Put simply, our sense of self as distinct from others, and our capacity to think and speak has evolved during our lifespans with the acquisition of language which is then taken inside as thought. Language, at its core, is relational. The earliest relations we learn are identity or sameness. The word ‘cat’ is in some way equivalent to an actual cat in the world. From this simple relation of coordination, we begin to learn other, more complex relations such as opposition, distinction, comparison, causal (if-then), hierarchical (e.g. part-whole relations), and, most complex of all, diectic (words that depend on the context in which they are used)  relations that take our own point of view as a referent (e.g. I versus you, here versus there and now versus then). These latter diectic relations are the basis of the formation of a sense of self as a point of view that remains constant in relation to the world. The fact that this is an enormously complex skill to learn is evidenced by the fact that perspective taking ability continues to develop through a child’s teens and even into adulthood. 

So what does all this have to do with Prosocial? CBS provides a naturalistic way of understanding how evolution can occur within both our individual symbolic systems and also at a cultural level. Critically, Relational Frame Theory (the part of CBS that articulates how the mind evolves both phylogenetically and ontogenetically), sees language as behaving rather than representing. We learn to correctly respond to the statement “please pass me the lemon” because it is socially useful, just as it is socially useful to be able to discriminate what “I” want from what “you” want. If we are ever to consciously evolve, and in particular if we are to become more skilled at finding shared purpose and identity, we must become more skilled at noticing the ways in which we are relating one event to another in the world. At a societal level, such relational framing of the world is at the heart of such relating as ‘us’=good/right and  ‘them’=bad. At a personal level, beginning to build greater awareness of the ways in which relating works provides greater  ‘psychological flexibility’ to step back and witness an shift from “I am angry’ to “I notice I am angry” or even “I notice I am having the experience of being angry”, thereby providing more choice points to change one’s automatic responding to such an experience.

Psychological flexibility emerges from seeing relational framing in process. Put simply, when we learn to appreciate that the constructed, relational world is not the same as the actual world of direct contingencies, we come to have greater control over our perceiving and we are better placed to choose our actions to create greater harmony and purposeful cooperation toward shared goals.

How does all of this relate to integral theory? We see some substantial alignment of thinking. First, our work emphasizes both the interior and exterior perspectives on experience. We are deeply interested in evolution occurring in both awareness and behavior. By articulating what ‘awareness’ is (i.e. relating behavior) we can approach the evolution of awareness in a naturalistic manner. Furthermore, we are in a position to relate awareness directly to observed behavior, which in turn can be related to individual and group goals such as wellbeing and collaboration. 

Second, the emphasis upon evolution occurring at multiple levels is consistent with the distinction between individual and collective levels within AQAL theory. Like integral theory, we see the world in process terms. From our perspective, it is groups all the way up and down. Even an ‘individual’ is not in any way indivisible (the root meaning of the word). Indeed, on average only 43% of the cells within and upon our bodies are actually human. We are already a group not just of diverse organisms but also diverse impulses and experiences. And our practical focus on creating behavioral change means that we must pay close attention to many levels of organization from small groups, to organisations, to local regions, nations and whole cultures for example.

Third, Prosocial strongly agrees with and supports the ways in which integral theory promotes the need for growth in perspective taking to more complex and inclusive ways of seeing. If we are to make our societies more harmonious, we must evolve our own ways of seeing to be able to transcend simplistic dichotomies between right and wrong, good and bad and us and them.

But there are also some potential differences between the Prosocial approach and integral theory. 

First, we see both the interior and exterior of individual experience as behavior, all subject to the processes of evolution. Just as we might try multiple different ways to open a stuck door (variation) before remembering (retention) the one that works (selection), we might also try multiple different ways of thinking through a problem before settling on a pattern of thinking that helps us achieve our aims. From our perspective it is important to maintain this naturalism, verbal relating is behavior just as kicking a ball is a behavior. What integral theory refers to as ‘spiritual intelligence’ for example, is all just the behavior of more or less complex relational framing from our perspective as people form more and more complex capacity to take the perspective of others and include more diverse viewpoints. 

Second, and perhaps more importantly, evolutionary theory is more circumspect about the inevitability of growth toward greater complexity than integral theory seems to be. Evolution (physical, symbolic and cultural) can easily take us where we do not wish to go, including toward greater chaos. Just think, for example, of the increasing rates of distraction, anxiety and depression engendered by the modern, consumerist cultures we have created. That is why we need to bring our capacities to relate to greater awareness so that we can more consciously choose to articulate and move toward our shared aims for greater harmony and cooperation.

This brings us to the second aspect of Prosocial that we wish to discuss, the practice of Prosocial.

The Prosocial ARC Process

The acronym ARC stands for “Awareness”, “Relationship” and “Culture” because our process operates at the levels of individual Awareness, interpersonal Relationship and Culture. In practice, the application of Prosocial involves a sequence of activities designed to surface, clarify and integrate individual and collective interests. We see interests as the ‘symbotype’ (analogous to the genotype) of cultural evolution. This process tends to succeed when it is possible to build a culture of clear focus on purpose throughout a school at every level.

Key phases in the Prosocial ARC process typically include:

  1. Initial trust building, purpose definition and communication skills training
  2. Stakeholder mapping: whose interests need to be considered, who is ‘in’ the focal group of interest
  3. Exploring individual interests and values in the system using the ACT Matrix . This process is described further below but for this audience can be considered as reporting out both the internal experience and the external behavior of the individual. 
  4. Exploring collective interests and behaviors using the collective ACT matrix: Mapping new emergent collective interests and purposes as part of the group.
  5. Exploration of the Core Design Principles (CDP’s) presented above to create agreements that balance and integrate self and collective interests in processes such as decision making, performance feedback, conflict resolution and leadership.
  6. Action planning and goal setting: refining the products of the work with the aforementioned tools to create either a) specific, measurable goals with accountabilities and action steps, or where there is too much uncertainty for such goal setting, b) pilot processes that can be used to try out potential interventions in a low risk, rapidly changeable environment.
  7. Evaluation tools to measure change.

These processes can be flexibly applied in different orders depending upon needs. For example, while it makes sense to include the individual ACT matrix in relatively new groups or groups in conflict, other more established or stable contexts may call for initial exploration of the CDP’s with a focus on implementation and working together rather than integrating individual interests.

The ACT Matrix will be of particular interest to this audience as it is similar in some ways to the AQAL model. It consists of a 2 * 2 matrix and its intent is to act as a lens upon the world. In addition, it captures the internal/external distinction of AQAL as well as the individual/collective distinction, although the latter is done by using separate matrices for individual and collective perspectives as it is difficult to represent a three dimensional cube. Furthermore, as our intent is to map, balance and integrate multiple levels of interest in the system, we find it helpful to sequentially explore interests at different levels.

Unlike AQAL, the second axis consists of a toward and an away pole, with the toward pole representing the processes of attraction, vitality and expansion, while the away pole represents the processes of avoidance and contraction. Technically speaking and from a behavioral perspective, the toward side maps processes of positive reinforcement while the away side maps processes of negative reinforcement. Figure 1, below, provides an example of an individual ACT Matrix, complete with an example of the kind of questions one might use to experientially reflect within each quadrant.

Figure I: Example of an Individual Act Matrix

The ACT matrix in Figure 1 is designed for use with individuals. A similar process can be used to explore the core design principles described above but at the collective level. For example, the matrix can be adapted to explore such questions as “What matters most to us about being a group? What is our shared purpose? What are our shared values” (CDP1 Shared Identity and Purpose) or, “What matters most to us about fair and inclusive decision making?” (CDP3 Fair and Inclusive Decision Making). The matrix can also be used in a way that is more situated in a particular context. For example, if the group Matrix focus was brought to bear on CDP4 (Monitoring of Agreed Behaviors) , the question in the top right quadrant might read something like: “What values do we, as a group, most want to demonstrate in the way we track agreed-upon group-behaviours, during our response to the global pandemic?”  

Whereas the Prosocial matrix approach emphasises the interior and exterior of approach and avoid behaviours, we make it multi-level by repeating the exercise at the level of the individual and the collective. Adding the dimension of toward and away provides a bridge between the subjective experience of the world and more consciously chosen (evolved) actions in response to that experience.

Taken together, the ACT matrix and the Core Design Principles provide a practical toolkit for managing the process of evolution toward prosocial outcomes at all scales, from individuals to the planet. 

Prosocial Spirituality

Recently, the developers of Prosocial have added a spiritual dimension to what we have just described. The scholarly literature on religion suggests that most enduring religions are strong in two dimensions: a “vertical” dimension that defines the relationship between the person and the divine or sacred, and a “horizontal” dimension that defines the social relationships among people (Wilson 2002). Ostrom’s core design principles map onto the horizontal dimension and the ACT Matrix maps onto the vertical dimension to a degree, but more can be done to strengthen the vertical dimension. Prosocial Spirituality draws upon nine elements of universal spirituality identified by Wayne Teasdale in his book The Mystic Heart, as a vertical counterpart to the CDPs. Teasdale’s introduction to The Mystic Heart illustrates how much he belongs in the company of Wilber and Ostrom:

Here are Teasdale’s Nine Elements of a Universal Spirituality that can complement Ostrom’s core design principles.

“We are at the dawn of a new consciousness, a radically fresh approach to our life as the human family in a fragile world. This birth into a new awareness, into a new set of historical circumstances, appears in a number of shifts in our understanding…The awakening of our ecological interconnectedness, with its concomitant sense of the preciousness of all other species, raises the earth to where it becomes the center of our moral, aesthetic, economic, political, social, cultural, and spiritual activities. We have to learn to negotiate the balance between the individual and the totality, rather than erring too far to one side, as in the past…Interdependence is an inescapable fact of our contemporary world. Not only is it a prevailing condition that dominates international commerce, cultural exchange and scientific collaboration, it is a value that promotes stable global peace… ” [pp. 45]

Here are Teasdale’s Nine Elements of a Universal Spirituality that can complement Ostrom’s core design principles.

•    Actualizing full moral and ethical capacity

•    Living in harmony with the cosmos and all living beings

•    Cultivating a life of deep nonviolence

•    Living in humility and gratitude

•    Embracing a regular spiritual practice

•    Cultivating mature self-knowledge

•    Living a life of simplicity

•    Being of selfless service and compassionate action

•    Empowering the prophetic voice for justice, compassion, and world transformation.

Prosocial Spirituality is an emergent integral discussion and could be said to be the most current iteration of the interspiritual discussion (Figure 2). Initially, Teasdale’s Nine Elements joined Keating et al.’s “Nine Points of Agreement Among the World’s Religions” (2006) as two of the five elements of the 2015 “Interspiritual Declaration”. The other three elements outlined core foundations of interspiritual education, including integral education.[9]  Johnson and Ord’s The Coming Interspiritual Age (2013) was written in an integral framework[10]  and, as Prosocial Spirituality was developing, Kosmos journal (2018) invited Johnson to further elaborate recent developments in evolutionary science, Prosocial and the Nine Elements framework.[11] These discussions, joined now by the emergence of Prosocial World co-founded with Atkins (, and numerous conversations joined by Wilson[12]   further cap an already burgeoning literature on just the history of interspirituality.[13

Figure 2, a simplified timeline of Interspirituality and Integral

With funding from the Templeton Religion Trust, we are now offering training in both the core design principles and the nine elements of universal spirituality in a way that will allow us to study their separate and combined effects on group efficacy and individual wellbeing. Emerging now are numerous teaching tools both in print and on line. [14] We welcome the participation of individuals and groups that are already familiar with Integral theory and would like to personally experience Prosocial theory and practice.

Some Concluding Notes

The recent entry of “Prosocial” and Prosocial Spirituality into the evolving global integral discussion stems from important recent developments in evolutionary science— namely Group and Multi-Level Selection Theory.

With all of the elements of Integral Theory we have a proposed vision of “all the interacting elements in the cosmic game”. With Group and Multi-Level Selection we have an understanding of what drives evolutionary process toward more cooperative and synergistic relationships, and toward individual and collective altruistic behaviors. With cultural evolution, and conscious choice, these can also become creative and co-creative synergies as well.

Wilson, and his revered co-author, Harvard’s Dr. E. O. Wilson, in their “Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology” conclude:

“Selfishness beats altruism within groups. Altruistic groups beat selfish groups. Everything else is commentary”.[15] 

As this view has mainstreamed, this quotation is now to be found at popular online “Quotation Sites” paralleled with Rabbi Hillel (Hillel HaGadol, etc.) and Jesus of Nazareth speaking of The Golden Rule:  “That is the whole Law. Everything else is commentary.”  This view of the parallel “positive tracks” of both evolutionary process and the “message from the human heart” in the Great Wisdom Traditions is, as was said by Wilson and His Holiness the Dalai Lama in their recent conversations “like sailing with, rather than against, the wind.”[16] 

There are many avenues for the unfolding conversation among Interspirituality, Prosocial and Integral. We have already mentioned Group and Multi-Level Selection as drivers of developmental process (in Integral terms, the “Waking Up, Growing Up, Cleaning Up, Showing Up, Linking Up and Lifting Up”[17]) and the commonality of insights invited by “Four Quadrant” models. We have also mentioned the potential treasure troves of updated, current, scientific knowledge that can help put Integral thinking on an even more solid evidentiary foundation.

Concluding, many of the main areas we see for further conversation all tend to gather around the idea of shifting our lens from seeing ourselves as individuals to seeing ourselves as inherently embedded in social and planetary systems. Thus they all revolve around “identity” to a large degree:

  1. How can we enhance conscious evolution within the interior spaces at multiple levels, that is, at both the individual and the collective and cultural?  How can we turn a lens on experience into tools for action?  And, how do we work with small groups and groups of groups to scale change towards enhancing mutual thriving of humans and other species?
  1. A second key area is applying the insights of Integral and Prosocial to assist people moving from “me, to we”— to earth-centric perspectives, that expand identities? How specifically might we combine the insights from Integral with the naturalistic action research tradition to conduct better research on “what works” for this enterprise?  This involves more than just ‘we are the world’ and ‘global unity’ proclamations. It must be a lived experience of shifting moment to moment decision making from a perspective of ‘what is in it for me?’ to “what is in it for the larger systems of which I am a part?” This in turn requires healing of the automatic reactivity so many of us operate from so this is a space where science and spirituality must join.
  1. A third area will likely be the application of evolutionary ideas to cultural institutions such as organizations, governments, policy and global agreements. How should we understand those institutions as symbotypes subject to evolutionary processes? How can we take control of the evolution of those institutions to be more supportive of life?
  1. Lastly—and this would be many articles, discussions and events even in itself—would be the further cementing of the dream of how science and “spirit”, our inherent wirings for both the subjective and the objective, can co-create the world we all hope for—that “works for all”.

All of these concerns are, after all, the fundamental wellsprings of both the Integral and Prosocial enterprises and their hopes and dreams.


 [1] 2015:  Does Altruism Exist:  Culture, Genes and the Welfare of Others (Yale/Templeton); 2019: This View of Life:  Completing the Darwinian Revolution (Pantheon) (“TVOL”) and also 2007:  Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives; 2003:  Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion and the Nature of Society and, withPaul W. B. Atkins and Steven C. Hayes, the title in the endnote below. In 2020 Wilson published the trending novel Atlas Hugged, a response and counter-proposal to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged; see

[2] See and P. W. B. Atkins, Wilson, D. S. and S. C. Hayes, 2019:  Prosocial: Using Evolutionary Science to Build Productive, Equitable, and Collaborative Groups.

[3] Elinor Ostrom:;;

[4] Ken Wilber, p. i, in The Coming Interspiritual Age (Johnson and Ord, 2013).

[5] “An Introduction to Integral Spirituality” by Ken Wilber:

[6] Ken Wilber and David Sloan Wilson:  “Evolving a Multi-cellular Society” ( 

[7] (i) Ken Wilber, Wayne Teasdale, Thomas Keating and Kurt Johnson dialogues on Integral and Interspirituality, and the texts and citations on Integral and Interspirituality in Universal Principles and Action Steps (2021); (ii) Ken Wilber and Wayne Teasdale dialogues at YouTube ( recorded shortly before Teasdale’s 2004 passing and posted 2008, two years after Fr. Thomas Keating et al.’s The Common Heart; (iii) Ken Wilber and Kurt Johnson dialogues at Integral Life (2013), Parts 1-4,  and [being moved over to new Integral Life platform]; (iv) in the references below, the “Interspiritual Declaration” refers to the five combined statements below, originating from the dialogical gatherings and works of Fr. Thomas Keating, Br. Wayne Teasdale and their many interfaith colleagues from 1984 forward. Each also has a separate entry in Universal Principles and Action Steps [pp. 21, 22, 32]:  “The Nine Points of Agreement Among the World’s Religions” [Keating et al. 2006]; “The Nine Elements of a Universal Spirituality” [Teasdale 1999], and “The Eight Needed World Shifts in Consciousness”,  “The Five Evolutionary Developmental Elements”, and “The Seven Elements of Interspiritual Education” [as distilled from Teasdale 1999 by Johnson and Ord 2013]. Sources and Elaboration:;;;

[8] On The Convergence on VoiceAmerica:  “Our Moment of Choice:  Atlas Shrugged or Atlas Hugged, Parts 1 and 2:;

[9] Universal Principles and Actions Steps (pp. 21, 22, 32) (, with these supplemental links:;; Brief 1-2 min Clips: What is PS;  Why PS; Describe a PS World; Ready to Change; 30 Minute Clip

[10]See Wilber and Johnson discussions cited in Endnote 7.

[11]Kurt Johnson, “Evolving Toward Cooperation:  David Sloan Wilson’s New Evolutionary Biology”  Kosmos (Winter, 2018), online 2019:

[12] See, VoiceAmerica citations in Endnote 8 and [with theologian and activist Sr. Ilia Delio OSF].  

[13] As reflected in “Resources” and “Affiliates” at, primary historical accounts: Teasdale, Wayne. 1999. The Mystic Heart:  Discovering a Universal Spirituality In the World’s Religions. Novato CA: New World Library as further elaborated in Johnson, K. and R. D. Ord, 2013, The Coming Interspiritual Age; Bucko, A. and R. McEntee , 2015, The New Monasticism: An Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Living; Johnson, K., “The Interspiritual Paradigm– Legacies and Horizons” in Shraddhananda, Sw. (Ed.) Mature Interspirituality, and these online sources–; and at;;;; among many other sites on line.

[14] See “What is Prosocial Spirituality?” a PDF available from Prosocial World, along with brief 1-2 min Clips: “What is PS”;  “Why PS”; “Describe a PS World”; Ready to Change; 30 Minute Clip, and “Ready to Change” (1 minute video on Prosocial Spirituality)

[15] The Quarterly Review of Biology, December 2007, Vol. 82, No. 4, p. 327


.[17] See Endnote 7 and “A Truly Inclusive Spirituality” [in Waking Up, Growing Up, Cleaning Up, Showing Up, Linking Up and Lifting Up, p. 5, 2018 [ for the Parliament of the World’s Religions 2018], pp. 22-29 [].

[18] Specific sources from this book and related references in the “Prosocial” section of this article include:  Atkins, P. W. B., et al. (2019). Prosocial: Using Evolutionary Science to Build Productive, Equitable, and Collaborative Groups, New Harbinger; Wilson, D. S., et al. (2013). “Generalizing the core design principles for the efficacy of groups.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 90, Supplement(0): S21-S32; .Sender, R., et al. (2016). “Revised Estimates for the Number of Human and Bacteria Cells in the Body.” PLOS Biology 14(8): e1002533; and, regarding the ACT Matrix: this process was originally developed by Polk and colleagues (Polk, K. L., Schoendorff, Webster and Olaz,  (2016). The essential guide to the ACT matrix, Context Press.) but it is described in detail in the context of group cooperation and the Prosocial process in Atkins et al (2019)


Atkins, Paul W. B., David Sloan Wilson and Steven C. Hayes. Prosocial:  Using Evolutionary Science to Build Productive, Equitable and Collaborative Groups. Reno NV: Context Press, 2019[18]

Johnson, Kurt and David Robert Ord. The Coming Interspiritual Age. Vancouver CN: Namaste Publishing, 2013.

Johnson, Kurt, Ulfik, Rick and Shannon Marie Winters [Eds]. Universal Principles and Action Steps. New York, NY:  Light on Light Publications [], 2021

Miles-Yepez, Netanel [Ed.] [Fr. Thomas Keating et al.]. The Common Heart: An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue. Brooklyn NY: Lantern Books, 2006.

Ostrom, Elinor. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Shraddhananda, Sw. [Ed.]. Mature Interspirituality:  Wayne Teasdale’s Nine Elements– and Beyond. Somerset, KY:  Sacred Feet, 2017.

Teasdale, Wayne. The Mystic Heart:  Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions. Novato CA: New World Library, 1999

Wilber, Ken.  Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Post-modern World. Boston MA: Shambhala, 2006.

____________  “A Truly Inclusive Spirituality” [in Waking Up, Growing Up, Cleaning Up, Showing Up, Linking Up and Lifting Up, p. 5, 2018 [ for Parliament of the World’s Religions 2018], pp. 22-29 [].

Wilson, David Sloan. Does Altruism Exist:  Culture, Genes and the Welfare of Others. New Haven CT:  Yale University Press/Templeton Press, 2015.

________________________  This View of Life:  Completing the Darwinian Revolution. New York NY:  Pantheon, 2019.

Author Biographies

Dr. Kurt Johnson is a noted evolutionary biologist and comparative religionist. He is co-author of the influential book The Coming Interspiritual Age and co-founded, with Br. Wayne Teasdale, what is today The Interspiritual Dialogue Network. A former monk and with PhD in evolution and ecology, Kurt was associated with the American Museum of Natural History for 25 years. In science he is co-author of two award-winning popular science books, Nabokov’s Blues and Fine Lines. With a fifteen year association with New York City’s One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, Kurt is also host the UNITY EARTH Convergence series on VoiceAmerica and an editor of its magazines The Convergence and Light on Light. He also serves widely on international forums and committees, especially at the United Nations.

Dr. David Sloan Wilson has made foundational contributions to evolutionary science and its applications to human affairs. He is SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University, president of the Evolution Institute, the first think tank to formulate public policy from a modern evolutionary perspective. He is the author of two pivotal books in cultural evolution:  Does Altruism Exist—Culture, Genes and the Welfare of Others and This View of Life:  Completing the Darwinian Revolution. Economics and business has been a focus of the Evolution Institute and the Prosocial Movement of which David is also a co-founder, including collaboration with Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom resulting in a practical method for working with groups of all sorts. In science and religion David is also the author of Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society.

Dr. Paul Atkins is a facilitator, author and researcher. He is co-founder and Vice President of Prosocial World, a not for profit that draws upon evidence from evolutionary theory, the commons and contextual behavioral science to focus on enhancing cooperation and trust in mission-driven groups globally. Paul is a Visiting Associate Professor with the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University. His extensive research has focused on interventions to reduce stress while enhancing relationships, wellbeing, perspective taking and cooperation in groups and organisations and he has been widely published in leading international journals. He is the lead author of  the book “Prosocial: Using Evolutionary Science to Build Productive, Equitable, and Collaborative Groups” as well as developer of the Prosocial suite of training offerings. Paul is past President of the ANZ Association for Contextual Behavioural Science, a Fellow of the international ACBS and serves on the boards of the ACBS Foundation and the World Happiness Foundation.

Jeffrey Genung is Managing Director, Chief Architect, and trustee of Prosocial World. He is also co-founder of Contemplative Life, a digital hub that connects people and communities with transformative practices, and co-founder of, an experiential practice network where he has created dozens of short films on contemplative practice. Most recently, he launched Prosocial Spirituality, a training and research initiative exploring the integration of evolutionary science and evolutionary spirituality. Jeff has spent his professional career as an entrepreneur and technology executive. He has also spent decades studying contemplative practices from East to West. His work is currently focused on exploring the integration of science and spirituality, the arts and technology in service of conscious evolution and unconditional love.

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