Notes From the Field: The French Letter: Integral News, Happenings and Events in France

Brian Van der Horst

Van der HorstSince this is my first report of integral news from France, I’ll make this more of a year’s summary of 2008 happenings. In future postings, I’ll check in with each issue of Integral Leadership Review.

Perhaps the most significant literary event last year was the March publication of Ken Wilber’s The Integral Vision, by the psychology division of Dunod, France’s largest publisher. Before this time, only Brief History (Quebec) and theHolographic Paradigm were available in French.

Wilber book 1 Spiral Dynamics book

Almost the same week, Fabien and Patricia Chabreuil’s book La Spirale Dynamique came out—from the same publishers. The Chabreuil’s have been consulting and training with Beck and Cowan’s model for some years now in Paris. They originally started teaching Enneagram courses in l993, and in 2004 invented an integral psychometric model of personality.

When last I attended a meeting of the Integral Institutes International Advisory Board, board members from England, Germany, Spain, etc. were reporting hundreds of integral groups. When it came my turn, I could list less than half a dozen organizations. “Oh— but that’s France,” said Ken Wilber. It is well know that this country is rather slow in adopting the integral approach. My observation is that most French people are so cynical about spiritual experience that the interior quadrants of the AQAL model put off most French intellectuals and business people.

The most significant public development in the integral field in France this year was the creation of The Université Intégrale, launched by the Paris branch of the Club of Budapest. Philosopher and systems theorist Ervin Laszlo founded the Club of Budapest several decades ago after serving as an original member of the Club of Rome (“Limits to Growth”) in the 70s. Since that hallowed organization was fairly mainstream and eschewed the spiritual, Laszlo started the Budapest organization to focus on spiritual and consciousness studies.

The Université Intégrale is helmed by Michel Saloff-Coste, known for his books on business, transformation and consciousness. The first day-long meeting in Paris hosted around 120 participants on February 29 and was part conference, part workshop overview of the tradition of integral theorists including Rudolf Steiner, Sri Aurobindo, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Edgar Morin, Laszlo, Ken Wilber, Andrew Cohen, and Rupert Sheldrake.

A second meeting on October 16th featured Laszlo himself, who had just published the second volume of his Science and the Askashic Field—An Integral theory of Everything in French. Your reporter was asked to make a presentation comparing the “everything” theories of Aurobindo, Laszlo, and Wilber. The result can be found at: those interested. A third meeting on integral epistemology and pedagogy is scheduled in Paris on January 13. For information, see:

About two years ago, Eric Allodi, founded Integral Vision, a training, coaching and consulting firm. Soon after he became the French representative for William McDonough’s “Cradle to Cradle” environmental design approach. Eric, who is also a founder of EnlightenNext Paris, has published many articles about Ken Wilber, translating “What is Enlightenment?” magazine into French. He has also given presentations at the spring and fall conventions called the “Salon Produrable,” a major event in Paris for business approaches to promoting environmental health and sustainable development industries. Eric has been successful in offering AQAL-oriented programs to major French corporations and has also been promoting Brian Robertson and Tom Thomison’s Holacracy trainings: Holacracy Facilitator Training.

Eric says he is “Getting more business by coming from the integral dimension, bridging the gap for sustainable develop projects.” Having done a few Integral Leadership trainings, he has found, “When you touch people at a green level, you can teach them to be integral. France became a postmodern country, very recently—just in the past 2-3 years. Now there is a big postmodern wave, 15 years late compared to the Netherlands, Scandinavia, or the USA. We now have a mixture between cognitive understanding, and a center of gravity at the green level.”

A group called Renaissance2, based in Perpignan, founded by Integral Leadership Review contributor Robin Wood, has been using integral approaches in promoting leadership programs, a transformational academy and networking organizations.

Jacques Ferber is a professor of computer science at the University of Montpellier (reputedly the oldest medical school in Europe). He wrote a book on multi-agent systems in 1999 (Ferber. J. Multi-Agent Systems. An Introduction to Distributed Artificial Intelligence. Addison Wesley, London, 1999. ) and a new paper, “Towards an integral approach of organizations in multi-agent systems,” which uses the AQAL model (only the 4 quadrant part) for building multi-agent systems.

“The multi-agent systems research domain is part of what is called “artificial intelligence”. Its purpose is to design and implement computer systems using social metaphor from ant colonies to human-like societies. However, it is a bit more than just making computer systems, because the system we build may be used in return to simulate actual societies,” Ferber says. “Thus it works both ways and that is why it is so interesting for someone like me, both concerned with persons and amused with machines…A good way to unify my interest towards social sciences and my ability with computers.”

Ferber’s personal blog is perhaps the most complete listing of French Integral websites. Be sure to check it out:

Ferber and Veronique Guerin have also written a marvellous book about communication and evolving relationships using AQAL and Spiral Dynamics to be published in March 2009 by Chronique Sociale publishers, the title of which could be translated as The World Changes…and what about Us?

Le Monde Change

Another great site in France for Integral news is Olivier Piazza’s Selfway—La Voie du Develloppement Personnel.

Bernard Yvars, an economist in Bordeaux at the Université Montesquieu, author of – “Union européenne et mondialisation: une application de la géométrie variable à l’espace méditerranéen”, and “Intégration européenne et régionalisme dans les pays en développement” has started a site on Ken Wilber.

Genpo Merzel Roshi came to town in June and presented the Big Mind process—fave rave of the Integral Institute—within the context of Zen practice to a group of a hundred or so Parisians seekers of enlightenment.

At my own humble monthly Ken Wilber Meet-Up Group in Paris, the event of the year was when Rajiv Malhotra gave a talk on “Indian Traditions and Ken Wilber.” A former entrepreneur in telecoms, Malhotra is a philanthropist and founder of the Infinity Foundation, which has given over 300 grants for research and education to major institutions and individual scholars. Previously Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Center for Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, he gave a truly global perspective to our avid members. Take a look at our library on this site, there are some interesting contributions by French members of this group.

Finally, I should mention, as a member of their advisory board, that a new organization called Integral Europe, based in Amsterdam, is offering a selection of programs throughout the Continent and the U.K., including trainings with Terry Patten, Genpo Roshi, and workshops on integral coaching and psychotherapy. For information or to subscribe to their newsletter, write to