Featured Article: Releasing the Potential of Integral Values

Mick Quinn

“Your values become your destiny.”

Mahatma Gandhi

mick quinnThe 2009 State of the World Forum is being held in Washington, D.C. early next year (2010). This momentous event is using an integral framework to bring together the different aspects of how we evaluate information and make decisions. The website states that these aspects fall into four quadrants:

  1. our personal values,
  2. our cultural values,
  3. our personal actions, and
  4. our collective actions.

The State of the World Forum site continues: These four aspects are essential to both understand and synthesize if we are to make durable change. What we value and what we believe about the world directly influence our personal as well as collective actions.”

Because of the critical influence of values on actions, in this article we will delve deeply into our personal values to ensure that their arrangement is capable of empowering our intention to make durable change.

EVOLUTIONARY POINTER: Consciously co-creating a remarkable future that transcends and includes the turmoil of today, will require not so much the development of new global values, but a simple reorientation of those existing values at a much more intimate level.

Of course, a new world will also require a shift in values for many developing nations in a shift from Power Red to Blue Order, as Alan Tonkin noted in an article in the March, 2009 edition of Integral Leadership Review.

But, for us and those around our kitchen counters, in our discussion groups, and at our boardroom tables to fully transition from Green to Turquoise, not just as a fine intellectual idea, but as fully embodied expressions of Integral Culture, we must take a look at how our values are arranged in subjective consciousness.

We define ‘values’ as core psychological structures by which all major decisions are made and ‘intention’ as the aim or anticipated outcome of an action. Our values represent what’s important to us. As such, our values greatly influence our world and those ideals, including the way in which they are arranged, guide our intentions to fruition.

The Integral Life website states that values structure the decisions that people make, and lists five integral values, learning, self-awareness, love, authenticity, and service. As we can see, these values are not new, but they do need to be embraced by those capable of doing so at a personal level, and then by a sufficient majority, so that global change can be catalyzed and sustained.

As we strive toward a world that embraces integral values, it would also be nice to know that our intentions are being guided by a values structure that is capable of manifesting such outcomes. How can such a radical reorientation of our values occur?

It can emerge as the result of a direct and vivid realization of self. As we interpret the subsequent shift in our center of gravity, what we think is most important to us—our primary value—often becomes evident in our work in the world—literally and metaphorically. There is, however, another way.

EVOLUTIONARY POINTER: You and I can choose to release the potential of evolutionary values, first in subjective consciousness. Only then can we expand that clarity to our family and friends, our work, and finally to our culture. We can choose to be choiceless.

We will return later in the article to see how this is possible.

Getting ourselves unstuck from a pluralistic postmodern worldview and freeing ourselves from the perspective that denies hierarchies and value gradations requires that 2nd Tier thinkers are not only fluent in such theories as Integral and Spiral Dynamics, but also explore a values hierarchy at a much more intimate level. The challenge, therefore, is not to reduce the irreducible, but instead to thoroughly examine the values that direct the choices of subjective consciousness.

As Andrew Cohen said: “Once your ego’s values have become objectified in your awareness, then you are in a position to begin to freely choose: Is that who I want to be or not?”1

And in a recent conversation with this teacher of Evolutionary Enlightenment, Ken Wilber said: “Part of what we want to do in order to construct an enlightened society is not just to get everybody living in the now, but to find ways to have our culture governed by integral values, values that are truly comprehensive and truly all-embracing. Later in the same article, he says: We need to move from a fragmented view to an integral view theoretically, and then we have to find ways to embody it, to practice it, and to put it into being”.2

One way to move from a fragmented view, to an integral view, to a culture that is governed by integral values, is for us to make decisions using a structure that is capable of delivering on such a pure intention. Here we will present one way to move beyond the theory of values, to investigating the arrangement of our own guiding principles. We will do this to ensure that this structure can empower awakened choices and so release the potential of integral values and a truly integral enlightenment.

Often we declare a desire to inspire change and to serve others with great gusto and conviction, but find that our bursts of enthusiasm quickly dissipate. Sometimes walking our talk is not so easy. Why is this so? How can we sustain great choices on a consistent path of growth and development for the sake of self and others?

The core of the issue is that, although our intentions are truly honorable, the way in which we use our values to direct those intentions is unknowingly subjected to both individual and collective habituation; hence even the purest objectives are ultimately misdirected.

We are well aware of worldviews that deny ranking systems, hierarchies, and value gradations. But, what if the structures by which many of us are currently attempting to sustain a 2nd Tier influence on global change are unknowingly loaded with 1st Tier sensibility? What if the power of our integral values remains entrenched in 1st Tier formations?

EVOLUTIONARY POINTER: 1st Tier arrangements of our values are sufficient for success through many levels of development; 1st Tier value structures, however, cannot direct 2nd Tier intentions because they are drawn to parallel outcomes.

Therefore, without a radical shift to a supportive decision-making process, our goals will remain at large. In other words, though we mean well, our existing values and the way in which they are arranged will prevent us serving others with authenticity.

John Peterson, futurist and founder of the Arlington Institute, recently said in an interview with EnlightenNext Magazine3: “This is an interesting time in the history of the planet, it seems to me. We’re going through a major transition, a major perturbation, and extraordinary evolutionary jump in terms of the life on this planet in general, and we’re seeing the evolution of a new kind of human being in the process.”

This new kind of human being is one whose values structure is radically altered, either by vivid realization of self or by direct election. That human being is then capable of coming together with other people beyond 1st Tier decision-making structures in such a way that the products of those relationships create and sustain a viable planet for us all.

Later in this same article, John Peterson says: “It all comes down to how serious you are about trying to do something about this [creating a new world]. That means if you decide that it is quite important to do something about all of this, things will start to happen and people will show up in your life and books will show up that are appropriate. But you have to make that decision first. It has to be a quiet, explicit, serious decision that has a lot of intention behind it. Then the solutions start to emerge and those solutions are different for different people. At the same time, I think it’s quite important that we are open to alternatives and fully prepared to consider things that are unconventional, but if you are locked into conventionality, you’re not going to get there from here. I’m taking about an open-minded commitment to change.”

Are you fully prepared to consider things that are unconventional?
Are you making an open-minded commitment to change?
Are you ready to decide to be choiceless?

To fully consider the unconventional and to make an open-minded commitment to change will imply that our decision-making structures can support us in being choiceless about these matters. It is necessary that we become clear about what we value more than anything else, because it is critical to know who’s making the important choices, is authentic 2nd Tier perspectives or concealed 1st Tier conventionality.

We naturally absorb these ideals of our culture including such integral values as love, learning and service. But, we also absorb the ways in which our values are arranged. This identification happens unconsciously and a long time before we are allowed to make a major life decision for ourselves. As a result of conditioning, our values are distributed into numerous spheres that support distinct components of our lives.

EVOLUTIONARY POINTER: Conditioning segregates our values into distinct and concurrent groups, which are often considered equally at the time of important life decisions.

Because most of us are not aware of the existence of these multiple groups of values, we experience great anguish and confusion in times of making important choices. We are especially perturbed when our efforts to sustain our 2nd Tier perspectives wobble and fall.

But, we have relied on these 1st Tier structures to make decisions for so long that they often operate without question. Therefore, we are never going to ‘decide away’ unnecessary suffering until we identify the influence of concealed conditioning in our decision-making structures.

Here are some ways to know if the arrangement of your values may be limiting your options:

  1. You experience unreasonable fear and anxiety when faced with major decisions.
  2. Your priorities are continually shifting, despite your best efforts to focus.
  3. You change your mind about important choices you made in the past.
  4. You often regret the choices you made.
  5. You delay major decisions until the last minute.
  6. You often engage in lengthy deliberations over a multitude of scenarios.
  7. You look for the options that may provide the most predictable outcomes.
  8. In decision-making, you seek the most emotionally rewarding results.
  9. You sometimes feel as if you have too many choices.
  10. You feel as if you have no choices at all.

Another reason that our highest goals remain elusive is that each of our separate value groups also contain many different values. For instance, the life domain of Relationships can contain several important values such as love (feeling), fun, honesty, and trust. A decision about a career opportunity can also draw into play such values as money, ambition, and power in the life domain of Source of Income. The values in both of these life domains can also clash with a decision about how to express ourselves to the fullest in a life domain such as Conscious Service, where values such as self-awareness and authenticity are important.

EVOLUTIONARY POINTER: When we struggle with major life decisions, it often looks as if we are delaying action, when in fact we simply can’t settle on our most important value. Procrastination is often the result of the clash of multiple values across multiple life domains.

Releasing the potential of integral values in culture begins when we elect to investigate how this is possible at the level of subjective consciousness. This decision provides evidence of our commitment to change and willingness to embrace the unconventional. But, which particular values might comprise this new structure?

In his recent book, Integral Consciousness4, author Steve McIntosh quotes three primary values, the beautiful, the good, and the true. And a little later he poses this question: “How do these ideals [a word he uses interchangeably with ‘values’] exert a gravitational pull on evolutionary systems? The most obvious answer is that these ideals influence the choices of subjective consciousness”.

Therefore, the values of a person who has awakened to a 2nd Tier perspective are no longer arranged in multiple hierarchies like those of an un-awakened person, even though the former will also share many of the same values as a person who has yet to reach this level of development.

It is by making all major life decisions according to primary values, such as evolution, truth, beauty or goodness, that the intended outcome will be realized regardless of the circumstances surrounding the decision. In doing so we discover that an integral culture is not dependent on options or outcomes, but on how consistently our intentions are directed by primary values such as the ones mentioned here.

By arranging our values in this way we become “choiceless” in regard to change. We will approach transformation and the evolution of consciousness and culture with unbending confidence, because we now know that our intention to release the potential of integral values is always going to be our outcome.

EVOLUTIONARY POINTER: Liberation from the effects of hand-me-down value structures is the outcome when those values are rearranged into a single hierarchy of values.

The primary value that we select for this single hierarchy always represents our interest in awakening our full potential marginally more than other interests in our lives. Making a decision—an awakened choice—based on such a conscious primary principle will produce an awakened effect. This sustains the conditions for authenticity by reclaiming the awareness that would ordinarily be lost in ongoing attempts to resolve the troubling outcomes of choices that were directed by 1st Tier decision-making processes.

This new arrangement also supports all other essential aspects of life because our subsequent values can include money, security, family, education, fun, etc. These other values in the single hierarchy can, and do change positions with each other, depending on the particular situations about which a decision needs to be made. But, they are applied to the choice at hand only after the primary value has been considered first.

As you can see, such a revised structure calls us to a radical commitment to change. Such a revolutionary shift in the arrangement of the values that influence the choices of subjective consciousness is critical to creating a new world.

Therefore, the decision-making structures of a person who is awakened to 2nd Tier perspectives is based on a single hierarchy of values which consistently includes a Conscious Competent Value in its primary position. This primary value is consciously selected because it is capable of directing their clarity of intention to create and sustain an integral culture.

As each of us seeks out what this primary value might be for us, listen again to what Steve McIntosh has to say: Of all the values of the integral worldview, that which it most esteems is the value of evolution itself. And with exaltation of the value of evolution comes the ideal of “the prime directive’. The prime directive is to work to maintain the health and sustainability of the entire channel of cultural evolution, the spiral of development as a whole5.

EVOLUTIONARY POINTER: The actions of a fully functioning human being are indivisible from his primary value. This is because with every important decision the ‘prime directive’ gains ground because it is being guided by a conscious competent value.

How do we find out which values are influencing the choices of subjective consciousness? How can we uncover what is most important to us?

Begin by looking at your current life situations for evidence of what you value. You can determine what your current values are by uncovering the tangible evidence for them in your life. You can uncover what’s important to you by looking at how you spend your time, and not particularly by what you were told your values should be or by what you think your values are. Take the opportunity now to look at your values, at what you think is most important to you, and try this simple test5:

  1. What do I think is most important in my life?
  2. Write down a list of six or seven values (state values as single words).
  3. Arrange these values in single hierarchy, with the most important one at the top.

Then ask yourself:

  1. What do I do with my time? (Consider work, family, relationships, study, subject consciousness, entertainment, and so on.)
  2. What value most closely represents each of those areas of activity?
  3. Arrange those values by time spent on each activity.
  4. Compare both lists—are they in the same order?

EVOLUTIONARY POINTER: Believing that you are going to infuse the world with integral values, and having a personal value structure that is capable of permitting that outcome, are two entirely different matters.

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  1. Montserrat, Spain – July 2005.
  2. EnlightenNextMagazine – Issue 42.
  3. EnlightenNext Magazine – Issue 44.
  4. Published by Paragon House, 2007.
  5. Based on The Uncommon Path by Mick Quinn – Published July 2009
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Mick Quinn is the Irish-born author of The Uncommon Path (being published by O-Books UK/USA in July 2009) and the founder of several multi-million dollar companies. Best-selling author, Gary Renard, said this book is “informative and gripping.” Mick lives in Utah and teaches with his wife, Debora Prieto, who uses Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind Process. For more information please visit: