An Integrative Approach To The Holidays

In this week’s podcast, Jeff Salzman tackles topics including the beauty of icicles and his new approach to holiday gift-giving, from an integral vantage point. He writes:

One of the hallmarks of integral thinking is that evolution moves forward by differentiating and integrating. Atoms differentiate into elements and integrate to create molecules. Cells differentiate into muscle, liver, blood, etc. and integrate to become an organism. So it is with culture and consciousness. Ambivalence arises as a muddled mess of knowing too much, and differentiates into its component ideas and feelings, often polar opposites, which are then integrated into a bigger, wiser more flexible view.

As evolutionaries we notice that the holidays evoke a set of negative feelings that hold that religion and materialism are what’s wrong with the world; and they evoke a set of positive feelings that hold that love and generosity are what will save it.

Rather than have to figure out which one is right and which one is wrong, or to live in the approach/aversion ambivalence of one view polluting the other, we realize that the way forward is to see the truth of both views fully in a bigger, more flexible space of awareness that can accommodate contradiction and paradox. “Out of the dimness, opposite equals advance”, wrote Whitman.

The advance Whitman is talking about is into a new synthesis of the polarities, a new realization that takes into account the best of both views and acts accordingly.

So that’s the theory. Here’s the practice, at least the one I’m using to make the holidays make more sense to me this year. As always I want to be part of the fun of giving and receiving gifts, but I don’t want to just buy things for people. I want to enjoy the spirit of love and peace, but I don’t want to be blind to people and critters throughout the world who have neither.

So for many people on my shopping list, I am making a donation to an organization that is doing some good in the world.

Jeff also writes on the movie Interstellar, saying it is a “movie told from all four quadrants” and a “work of integral art”. Read the full article.

I also shared a few thoughts on the movie, and concur completely that it is an outstanding work of integral art. That’s the buzz I’ve seen out on the social media of integralists as well. It’s really something when a Hollywood big-budget blockbuster gets this close to challenging the dominant ethos. You can tell it’s gold when scientific materialists write damning reviews of the movie on science-minded blogs for taking Love too seriously.


Photo Credit: [nosamk] KMason photography via Compfight cc