Ken Wilber is a philosopher known for his “Integral Theory” framework that mapping of all dimensions of reality, consciousness, and stages of human development. He’s synthesized maps and models from various Buddhist wisdom traditions, psychology, culture, biology, and systems thinking into what he calls “AQAL,” which means “all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types.” This roughly translates to using a combination of object/subjective & individual/collective lens to look at developmental levels of worldviews, lines of multiple intelligences, ephemeral states consciousness, and various personality typologies (this Integral Theory explainer from Integral Life dives into a lot more details).
In short, Integral Theory is a meta-theoretical model that serves as a transfer learning framework to be able to synthesize insights from many different otherwise siloed academic disciplines. But it also serves as a transformational model of consciousness that can help people “Wake Up” through altered states of consciousness, “Grow Up” through evolving through different egocentric, ethnocentric, and worldcentric stages of moral & worldview development, “Show Up” through having a framework to synthesize as many aspects of reality as possible, and “Clean Up” through the identification and working through unconscious shadow material.
In 2017, I summarized some of Wilber’s work in a keynote that I gave at the ITC Conference in Houston that was titled “Maps for Understanding VR & Reality.” Wilber saw my presentation and reached out to have a discussion about how virtual reality could serve as a transformational medium, and what kind of insights his Integral Theory could provide to experiential design frameworks for VR.
Integral Theory is something that is much more complicated and nuanced than what we could comprehensively cover in this 2+ hour conversation, but do manage to cover a lot ground ranging from his synthesis of maps of consciousness & human development, Eastern Philosophical metaphysics, the phenomenological science of Awakening, Enlightenment, Satori, & Moksha, the connection between esoteric mysticism and direct embodied experiences, the difference between dominator hierarchies and growth “holoarchies,” understanding the current culture wars, the possibilities of unlocking latent human potentials, and brainstorming about how virtual reality technologies can help people Wake Up, Grow Up, Show Up, and Clean Up.
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST
If you would like to learn more about Wilber’s work, then be sure to check out Integral Life for a lot more interviews, presentations, and practices.
This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.