Feature Article: The Integral Leadership Workshop – 2

Russ Volckmann

Every year my daughter-in-law gives me a Zen Calendar for my desk. I love these calendars for the daily messages that they bring to me, even those that seem a little obscure. After all, they test one’s wits and often stimulate some new synaptic connections.

On Sunday, March 28, 2004 the message was from Hakuin, about whom one website,, notes:

HAKUIN Ekaku, also known as Kokurin, Byakuin, Sugiyama Iwagiro, Iwajiro, Jinki Dokumyo, Shoji Kokushi (C. Pai-yin, Po-yin) (19 Jan 1686 – 18 Jan 1769)

[Dharma heir of the Rinzai master Shoju Rojin (Dokyo Etan, Keitan Dokyo) (1642-1721), and ??th Rinzai teacher since Lin-chi I’hsuan (J. Rinzai Gigen) (?-866).]

Since there is a school of Zen Buddhism named after this teacher, he no doubt was a master in considerable standing. Rather than pursue that line of thought (I leave you to your own devices and the webpage link above) I offer you the quotation:

What is this true meditation? It is to make everything: coughing, swallowing, waving the arms, motion, stillness, words, actions, the evil and the good, prosperity and shame, gain and loss into one single koan.with the principle of pure, undiluted, undistracted meditation before your eyes, attain a state of mind in which, even though surrounded by crowds of people, it is as if you were alone in a field extending tens of thousands of miles.if at this time you struggle forward without losing any ground, it will be as though a sheet of ice has cracked, as though a tower of jade has fallen, and you will experience a great feeling of joy.

What is clear is that the product of successful meditation is an altered state that fosters an experience of joy.

The subject of meditation is central to THE Integral Leadership Workshop– the second workshop held in early March in Westminister, Colorado. Not only did Fred Kofmann introduce participants to The Centerpointe Research Institute’s holosync technology for meditation–— and Roger Walsh’s meditative approach to spirituality– Essential Spirituality, John wiley & Sons, 1999– but in the several panel discussions that Ken Wilber participated in he made the point several times that meditation is theonly demonstrated means for heightening consciousness. And heightened consciousness is central to integral development.

This was clearly the organizing principle of the workshop. As Ken stated on day 1 (I paraphrase) Integral Leadership is any leadership that comes from your higher self. It is leadership that springs from an integral consciousness and is based on cognitive development that leads to the capacity to see the world, i.e., consciousness. It is about going beyond consciousness development to the application of consciousness in the world. As such, it is action that generates inspiration and awe in others to move to action while using skillful means to connect with people the way they are, thus involving multiple lines.

Ken also indicated that to develop integrally means to develop 1st tier (in Spiral Dynamics and SDi terms) and allowing 2 nd tier to emerge. By applying one’s development in the world integrally we become leaders who provide space for other people to grow.

Moving up levels in the holarchy that is the spiral involves transcending and including earlier stages and taking on new ones. Thus, development requires making healthy the sub-personalities while getting rid of the worldview at each level. In fact, health involves stripping away of limiting worldviews.

Thus, the focus of THE Integral Leadership Workshop was on the individual and their integral development. And this was approached integrally, of course. Yoga, meditation, hikes in nature, individual reflection, interactive processes punctuated by panel discussions with Ken   Wilber and others resulted in a very deep learning experience for those who participated.

As I stated in one of the closing activities, I did not get anything I came for and that was okay. I got a very rich intra- and interpersonal experience. Was it worth $3000? Well, it was if for no other reason than to be part of a process whereby Ken Wilber is meeting his public and investing many hours being with them.

Fred Kofman was a masterful trainer for the awareness raising activities. He modeled what he was leading us through in a truly inspirational fashion. He was truly modeling being an integral leader in that context. If you don’t know Fred’s work, check out his CD set Conscious Business. It is well worth the investment. There you will find the spirit of what was taking place in the workshop. Fred masterfully combines the integral perspective with activities modeled after workshops in the human potential movement and organization development/learning.

If, as you read this, you sense that there is another shoe still to fall, you are right. While what I received was a beautiful gift and an opportunity I deeply value, I did not get what I went for. I was seeking an opportunity to dig deeper into integral models and concepts, specifically in their application to leadership. True, there was some of that, but most of the discussions were about individual consciousness and spirituality.

I did ask a couple of questions of Ken. The first was that I asked him to discuss the relationships among the quadrants in the holon. This is an important and interesting question to me because it is in this interaction that the holon comes alive, is energized. Otherwise, the holon is just a four cell matrix of classification.

His answer to my question was to indicate that there were two chapters in his new book on this subject and this was too complex and high a level question to address in that workshop. Again, I am paraphrasing.

So I followed up with a question focused just on the relationship between upper left and upper right, the internal and external individual quadrants. In my mind, the first has to do with beliefs, assumptions, mental models, values, etc. The second is about behavior and biology.

I wish I had a transcription to the response I got to that question. I hope I can get a transcription. I am even going to ask if someone could send me the answer as a .wav file. But for now, I will minimally reconstruct the message that I got. I am not sure it is accurate:

We operate in all quadrants and domains all of the time. We light up particular aspects with out attention and create a community in the world that we vibrate with. (Again, my paraphrase.)

If there was more, I am afraid I lost it. I know Ken answered at more length than this and even checked in with me to see if his answer was satisfactory. I stated that it was a good beginning. I must confess that I discovered that I had totally lost his point a short time later. I take total responsibility for my confusion. I guess I may have to wait for the book.

In the meanwhile, I have two competing ideas bouncing around for me on the relationships among the quadrants. Ken states such a relationship exists in the last chapter of Integral Psychology. In the work I have been doing on Integral Leadership I have suggested that at the level of any holon the relationships be characterized as

  • UL-UR: self-management
  • UL-LL: attunement
  • UR-LR: engagement
  • LL-LR: system evolution

I have written about this in earlier issues of Integral Leadership Review.

The second idea, one that Ken noted, is that we operate in all quadrants at the same time. In other words, they are all operating simultaneously and “light up” when we focus our attention, our awareness on them. While this seems perfectly reasonable to me, it does little to bring the dynamic, developmental perspective to the holon that the former explanation offers.

Why is this important? If the holon (and integral theory) is to guide us in application, in developmental activity then the relationships among the quadrants offer us ideas about how we develop. In spiral terms, how do we engage in horizontal and vertical development? We cannot engage in development purely by focusing on one quadrant, that which lights up, unless we relate that to other quadrants.

If all four quadrants are relevant to all situations and life experiences, then we need to attend, not just to the personal side of development, but to the relationships between the individual and life conditions– culture and systems– that must be considered. Certainly, from a gestalt psychology perspective, we can only focus on that which we light up. One at a time. But we can also focus on the relationships among the factors represented by the quadrants.

By implication it is not just the quadrants that have stages of development, but the relationships among the quadrants as well. These relationships also have stages of development.

There are many questions to be considered here. Can the stage of development of the relationship be any higher than the stage of development of the quadrants? Probably not. What does it mean to develop the relationships? How can we describe the stages through a spiral lens? No doubt the answers to these and other questions are already evident in the literature and would bear explication. No doubt, the two chapters in Ken’s new book will help us here and set us off on new paths of exploration.

I deeply appreciate the connection that Ken, Fred and Roger made between meditation and action. I suspect the aspiration to joy, however, is really about a redefinition of joy. Rather than a spaced out state of bliss or supreme happiness, joy may just be about being connected and making a difference in one’s own life while serving others.

And, in case there is any doubt left in anyone’s mind, it was well worth the $3k.

> Russ Volckmann