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Integral Economics:

Making a Better World

By: Allan C. Leus

Dr. Villamor D.G. Vital


Economic Analysis
October 13, 2010
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Table of Contents

Introduction…………………………………………………………. 1

The World Today………………………………………………….... 1

Integral Theory……………………………………………………… 1

Poverty as Powerlessness and Ill-being……………………………. 3

The Transformation of Human Consciousness…………………… 4

Journey Within: Transforming Our Human Consciousness ……. 7

World Federation of Nations and Integral Economics…………… 8

Conclusion…………………………………………………………… 10

Sources ……………………………………………………………… 11
Introduction
The aim of this paper is to discuss the possibility of putting up an integral
economics and a world federation of nations. This paper will demonstrate that these tasks
can be realized depending on the degree of sophistication of the evolution of the
consciousness of certain number of people that could make them positively possible.

The World Today


What is the condition of our world today? According to Dr. Phillip Harter of
Stanford University School of Medicine, if we could shrink the earth's population to a
village of only 100 people, it would look something like this (Wilber, 2000): There would
be—

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 North and South Americans
8 Africans
30 white
70 nonwhite
6 people would possess 59% of the world's wealth
and all 6 would be from the United States
80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer malnutrition
1 would have a college education

Given this picture of our world today, I would like to present my thoughts about a
better world and how to make a better world for all human beings and the generations to
come, and including all sentient beings and to care for our mother earth.

This reflection will be guided basically by the integral theory of Ken Wilber. My
fascination in this theory made me feel that there is indeed huge hope for our world today
and for our future. As indicated above, 50% of the world’s population is experiencing
malnutrition. The issue, I believe, is not so much about the lack of food but the
inappropriate system of distribution of resources. Does human consciousness have
something to do with the economic situations of our people in the world today? What is
the relationship between consciousness and condition of our world today? This paper
hopes to address these questions.

Integral Theory
What is an integral theory? Let’s begin answering the question with this quote,
“Eleanor Roosevelt once said that ‘poor minds discuss people, average minds discuss
events, and great minds discuss ideas’—integral minds, we might add, discuss all three.”
It shows that instead of putting aside certain dimensions of the individual self and the
society, it would be helpful to begin to acknowledge that these dimensions have to be
2
honored in addressing the issues surrounding our economic life in particular and life in its
totality in general.

The integral theory attempts to provide sensible answers in the humanity’s quest
for ways to make our world a better place to live in for us humans and for all sentient
beings. Ken Wilber, an integral theorist, defines integral “as a whole, complete, full, all-
inclusive theory which shows a process of integrating and including body, mind, and
spirit in self, culture, and nature like a map that ‘makes room for everything’ which
means nothing is excluded, nothing is left out, nothing is denied, in a life that is truly and
genuinely integral.”1

To simplify this integral theory, let’s have the I, We, and It pronouns as our
working framework. First is the “I”, it means consciousness, subjectivity, self, and self-
expression (including arts and aesthetics); truthfulness, sincerity; irreducible and
immediate lived awareness; first-person accounts. Second is the “We”. It is about ethics
and morals, worldviews, common context, culture; intersubjective meaning, mutual
understanding, appropriateness, justness; second-person accounts. And third is the “It”. It
is about science and technology, objective nature, empirical forms (singular and
functional fit); objectives exteriors of both individuals and systems; third-person
accounts. (Wilber, 1998: 74).

So an integral economics will consider the growth and development of the self,
society and nature. The individual self has body, mind and spirit. Every person needs
food to live, access to education to develop the mind and spirituality and spiritual
expressions to realize one’s ultimate identity. In the society, our culture and social
systems should allow and support social exchanges that address the needs of every
domain (body, mind and spirit) to ensure appropriately individual and societal growth
and development with equal opportunities that are available for everyone.

The womb that will support self and societal growth and development is, of
course, our mother nature. An enlightened person understands that to care for mother
nature is another form of caring for one’s self and for all sentient beings. It’s a show of
utter ignorance to abuse mother nature because its destruction actually means humans’
suicidal act. We destroy nature, we destroy ourselves.

In doing economic analysis, the reality of poverty around us is a powerful image


that indicates that there is something wrong. Many experts in various disciplines have
offered answers as to why there is poverty. But there is still poverty. We can say then that
poverty is a symptom of something else. The symptom is alarming us about the
dysfunctional economic system that is at work in our country and around the world right
now. What is poverty telling us?

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1
Sex, God, and Rock and Roll by Stuart Davis, Foreword by Ken Wilber.
Poverty as Powerlessness and Ill-being
Let’s take the issue of poverty. Dr. Mina Ramirez, a professor and the president of
Asian Social Institute (ASI), Manila, shared in her lecture about the findings of a research
commissioned by the World Bank about poverty. The study says that poverty can be
reduced to two encompassing themes. These themes are powerlessness and ill-being.
What are the possible causes of this poverty as powerlessness and ill-being?

The first is poverty as powerlessness. Clive Hamilton says that “[w]e have been
schooled in a thousand subtle ways to feel that to possess is to capture power.”2 So that
many people spend more time to work to acquire wealth by whatever means without
considering to a certain extent any negative effects either to oneself, to others or to the
environment. And after long hours of work in a week, one finds time to relax and visit
shopping malls. Hamilton interestingly describes a shopping mall as a place wherein one
is able to say “I can buy and posses,”3 and thus one feels a sense of power.

This understanding of power based on what one has like material wealth will
surely cause powerlessness.

The second is poverty as ill-being. Ill-being could mean an imbalance way of


living. As an example of an imbalance way of life, it is like spending most of one’s time
and energy on earning money. Consequently, that would mean sacrificing senselessly
one’s time and energy to exercise to keep him/herself physically fit and healthy. The
worse thing that could happen is to ignore our responsibility to care for one’s soul, to care
for others and to care for the environment.

According to the Ageless Wisdom, “there is only one sin—separateness.”4 This


sense of separateness causes this feeling of insecurities and hopelessness. Our
responsibility then is to establish connection and to deepen our relationship with others
(the We), with nature (the It) and with the Ultimate (the I) as the source of our strength
and power.

Mclaughlin and Davidson, they are political spiritual thinkers, suggest that “what
is needed as a cure to this separateness is a deep sense of community – that we’re all in
this together.”5 For us Filipinos, we can still work on highlighting and developing further
our culture to deepen and widen the scope of our sense of relatedness and kinship. We, as
Filipinos, can still afford to smile and make sense of our lives even in the midst of
disaster like a devastating natural calamity. This sense of togetherness that we have
makes us recognize our sense of power through our cooperation with others and thus we
become more positive and hopeful in life.

4
2
Clive Hamilton, The Mystic Economist, Willow Park Press, 1994, p. 97.
3
Ibid., p. 98.
4
Corinne Mclaughlin and Gordon Davidson, Spiritual Politics, Ballantine Books, New York: 1994, p. 147.
5
Ibid., p. 148.
Given this discussion on powerlessness and ill-being, we can say that the entire
dimensions of human existence have to be addressed appropriately. A human being, as a
compound individual, has body, mind and spirit (Wilber, A Sociable God, 2000). All
these dimensions of our existence as human beings need to be addressed appropriately. It
is how an integral economics would focus itself as a discipline. Hamilton quoted Norman
Brown who says that “all power is essentially sacred power.”6 Thus any quest for power
that is void of what is sacred will simply deepen a sense of powerlessness that would
eventually result on ill-being. Hamilton explains that “what we truly want is to transcend
the division between ourselves and the universe, to attain the godhead and achieve
immortality.”7 Therefore, empowerment and well-being would mean working on one’s
internal integration and transformation of one’s consciousness and to be connected with
the rest of creation with the recognition of one’s significance in the greater scheme of
things with corresponding responsibilities to do. A meaningful sense of power comes
from our realization our Buddha nature as Gautama Buddha counseled which is also
affirmed by Jesus Christ when he said the Kingdom of God within us. It’s a call to for us
human to be integral persons. It means transforming one’s consciousness.

The Transformation of Human Consciousness


The nature of human consciousness and its process of transformation are huge
topics in themselves. Our concern here is to simply present a simple sketch about the
viability of transforming one’s consciousness and to stress the real need for it. Wilber’s
theory about the Great Nest of Being will serve as our guide in understanding the nature
of our human consciousness.

The Great Nest of Being teaches that each level of development of human being
both include all previous levels and itself included in all higher levels. This idea is
congruent to the notion of holon and holarchy/hierarchy. Wilber points out that
consciousness “has historically been studied as the Great Chain of Being, a concept
which, according to Arthur Lovejoy, ‘has been the dominant official philosophy of the
larger part of civilized humankind through most of its history.’”8 He explains that it is “a
holarchy: a series of concentric circles or nests, with its senior level transcending but
including its juniors.”9 It means that the basic holon, let say an ego-centric worldview
goes through a developmental process thus transcends its original form into an ethno-
centric worldview then from ethno-centric worldview it transforms to world-centric
worldview and so on. However the lower holon does not disappear instead it is
incorporated in the higher holon. I will present the Spiral Dynamics as a lens by which
we can make sense of the transformation that is needed so as to transform the kind of
economic system that we

6
Ibid., p. 101.
7
Ibid., p. 101.
8
Ken Wilber, The Eye of the Spirit, Shambala: Boston & London, 1998, p. 32
9
Ibid, p. 32.
have today. (This kind of analysis is not of my own creation but it is what I learned from
the integral theory of Ken Wilber.)

Don Beck and Christopher Cowan adopted in their book “Spiral Dynamics” the
theory of values/worldviews development of the individual by Clare Graves and
reworked it in understanding the development of the society. Clare Graves, who started
this work before Beck and Cowan, insisted that people have a right to live the way they
want to live. He reminds the users of this framework that it is not intended to pigeonhole
any person or group of people. Here are the stages values development:

1st Tier
1. Beige: dominated by basic survival instincts, clan-based survival groups. Evidences
today: newborns, people in starvation.

2. Purple: Management of PURPLE demands respect for clan rules and allegiances,
respect to the clan "leaders." Evidences today: lucky charms, superstitions.

3. Red: Exploitative, finds expression in exploitation of unskilled labor. Assumption is


that people are lazy, must be forced to work. Evidences today: rebellious youth, street life
and gangs in inner cities.

4. Blue: Loyal to (dogmatic) truth , which is defined by social grouping. Works very well
in industrial economies. Moralistic-prescriptive management techniques. Evidence today:
Islamic fundamentalism.

5. Orange: Personal success orientation, motivations are largely economic, people are
responsive to perks, bonuses, money rather than loyalty, group belongingness, or life
employment. Main concerns are autonomy and manipulation of the environment. Usually
results in free market economy and multi-party democracy. Evidence today: Wall Street.

6. Green: Communitarian, Sensitive and humanistic, the focus with green is community
and personal growth, equality, attention to environmental concerns. Leaders become
facilitators. Hierarchies blur in the move towards egalitarianism with a resulting tendency
towards inefficiency and stagnation. Evidences today: Rogerian counseling, GreenPeace,
animal rights, deep ecology.

2nd Tier
7. Yellow: Systemic. This is the first stage in which there is a quantum shift in the
capacity to take multiple perspectives in life. It is characterized by systems thinking, an
orientation to how parts interact to create a greater whole. Unique talents and dispositions
are honored as contributing something valuable to the whole. Evidences today:
Hawking's Brief History of Time, chaos theory, eco-industrial parks.

8. Turquoise: Holistic. Focused on a global holism/integralism, attuned to the delicate


balance of interlocking life forces. Work must be meaningful to the overall health of life.
Able to see and honor many perspectives, including many of the "lower" stages.
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Evidences: Gaia hypothesis, Ken Wilber's work, Teilhard de Chardin, McLuhan's ‘global
village,' Gandhi's idea of pluralistic harmony.

Each of the 1st tier value spheres, Wilber notes, sees its own value spheres as the
only real and meaningful one. Although each of these first six stages has undergone
holarchic/hierarchic transformation from stage 1 to stage 6.

The 2nd tier value spheres are the highest form of development by which a more
humane and just form of economic set-up could immerge. Therefore we need more
people who have evolved in this stage of consciousness or values. They are the ones who
have highly evolved inner ecology (consciousness/moral values) who can put into really
transform the external reality by creating a better world for every human person on earth.
This 2nd Tier level of values makes the person realize that s/he has a strong sense of duty
to take care of others and the earth.

For example, if you want to fight famine, you need people who will take seriously
Orange value sphere which is commonly expressed as the democratic principles.
However, Orange value sphere does not necessarily eliminate hunger. To illustrate my
point here, let us take the study of Amartya Sen. He won the 1998 Nobel Memorial Prize
in Economic Science due to his research showing that there has been no occurrence of
famine in countries that have functional representative democracy. He said, "No famine
has ever taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy,"
(“Democracy as Freedom," Anchor, 1999).10 It is so because of the free flow of
information in a representative democracy and hence leaders could easily appropriate the
resources to places where people are in need.

This study of Sen drew a number of critics because there are still millions of
people who experience involuntary hunger in spite of the proliferation of democratic
nations around the world. For instance, in 2003, the The New York Times11 reported that
there were about 350 million of India's one billion people sleep hungry every night, and
50% of children are malnourished. The report also indicated that the government has at
the same time a surplus of more than 50 million tons of grains. Further, it was shown that
the government, with the dictate of the World Bank and other institutions, has reduced
food subsidies for the people.

The same is happening in the Philippines, surveys show that millions of people
experience involuntary hunger while the rice supply in the warehouses of the National
Food Authority (NFA) rot.

The people who have evolved into the Green value sphere would cry foul and
would stage a protest and tell the government and the concerned people to be more
sensitive and caring for our hungry brothers and sisters. But this noble and

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10
(Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company. This text was reproduced from The New York Times,
Books & Arts, of March 1, 2003.)
11
Ibid.
well-intentioned call of the “Green” to be more sensitive to others, especially those who
are in dire need would be ignored by people who are inhabiting the value spheres from
Orange and its previous stages. .

Journey Within: Transforming Our Human Consciousness


The question, “Who am I?” has been answered and still being answer by various
disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, theology, and spirituality. In the face of our
transforming self or values or worldview, we can never, therefore, have a fix answer the
question, “Who am I?”

Let’s just take this ride of journeying within as a path towards realization and
enlightenment and to ultimately answer the question, “Who am I?” It is a journey that one
has to do or practice. This journey will require us to be guided by a map. A map can be a
teaching of a particular religion or discipline. But there should also be a corresponding
practice to really realize our true and ultimate identity. What I am doing here is to simply
present a map for the journey but not the journey itself. The map can be talked about and
the journey itself has to be done. For example, we can discuss anytime how to meditate
but one has to actually meditate at least 30 minutes a day for some years to test the
accuracy of the map. The examples of Jesus and Siddhartha Gautama will be explored
here as our source of inspiration why we should understand the map and why we should
take on the journey.

First is Jesus. He said "I and the Father are One" (John 10:30). He realized that
his deepest nature is identical with that of his Father (God). In Luke 17: 21 Jesus tells us
“the kingdom of God is within you." The mystical literature in the Christian tradition
(e.g. Teresa of Avila, Miester Eckhart) supports this understanding that the ultimate
nature of every human person is Divine. Jesus went on fasting and prayer for forty days
and nights and he was also known for constantly praying (presumably he was in silent
communion with his Father) in the wilderness or mountains.

I am stressing here the importance of realizing one’s true and ultimate nature as
the inner drive in one’s loving and caring relationship with others and with the entire
universe. Jesus was deeply awakened to his real nature which is the very nature of the
Divine whom he called His Father.

Fr. Thomas Keating is now eagerly introducing to Christians a meditation prayer


called Centering Prayer. He explains that “During (this) time of prayer we consent to
God's presence and action within.” It’s about putting the grasping mind into stillness so
that one can access one’s deepest core where the kingdom of God is residing. This
centering prayer practice is one of the ways by which one can realize his/her Christ
consciousness or Buddha nature. In the mystical school of thought, Christ consciousness
and Buddha nature are just one and the same thing.

Second is Siddhartha Gautama. He worked so hard through fasting, meditation, yoga to


find ways on how to bring happiness and liberation unto this world. Then he realized that
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he is a Buddha, 'The Awakened One'. A Buddha is someone who is truly happy and free
of any form of suffering. The Buddha taught his disciples. "All living beings have the
Buddha nature and can become Buddhas." Then he taught the way to Buddhahood.

One example of this way is Self-inquiry by Sri Ramana Maharshi. It is a


meditation technique for attaining enlightenment.

Centering prayer or Self-inquiry meditation is a tool or paradigm. As a tool or a


paradigm, it is necessary to practice it for one to find out what it will bring about or what
can be experienced with it. Otherwise the teachings in Christianity that the kingdom of
God is within every human being and as being affirmed by Buddhism that all human
beings have the Buddha nature will only remain as information or knowledge but not a
real experience and realization.

I am stressing the importance of practicing something that will stabilize the mind
in trying to control everything by either dwelling in the past or in the future. Centering
prayer and other forms of meditation are ways to look within oneself. To be and the
experience of the Now is a way to look within oneself and thus to experience one’s real
identity. Eckhart Tolle call it "the One Life beyond form." (Tolle. 2005, p. 115).
According to him this Being is, "the eternal, ever-present One Life" which "is not only
beyond but also deep within every form as its innermost invisible and indestructible
essence" (Tolle. 2005, p. 10).

I am a student of this inward looking process. I am articulating all these to


encourage others to embark also in this journey within. I am also trying to make a
commitment to this process of journeying within so as to write in my heart and soul the
promise and commitment to care for all beings. Journeying within is a way of grounding
oneself in one’s ultimate identity so as to draw insights and basis for behaving that will
lead towards sustainable development.

Studies have demonstrated that meditation helps one to transform one’s stages of
consciousness development. Here now comes the need for the creation of the World
Federation of Nations.

World Federation of Nations and Integral Economics


Developmental theorists are clear in stating that the emergence of world federation of
nations and even integral economics are possible only when a certain number of people
have already transformed into an integral or 2nd tier level of values development. So this
world federation of nations and integral economics is a future possibility. It’s important
to start mapping out how the world federation of nations and integral economics would
look like.

Roar Bjonnes, co-founder of Center for Sustainable Villages, has an interesting


observation that “we have a UN without a spine and a global economic system without a
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soul. What we need instead is a World Government with a militia, and a global economic
system that fosters economic democracy, or people's democracy.” (The terms World
Government and World Federation of Nations mean the same thing in this paper).

Ken Wilber, a spiritual philosopher, sees hope for our world in the creation of World
Government in addressing world problems. He said: "My own belief is that, in the
coming century, we will see the present United Nations peacefully replaced by the first
move toward a genuine World Federation, driven particularly by threats to the global
commons that cannot be handled on a national level (such as terrorism, global monetary
and economic policy, and environmental threats to the global commons)."

According to Wilber, the creation of this World Federation of Nations would depend
on having world leaders who have developed into an integral consciousness. The integral
consciousness will serve as the interior support of the exterior structure of the said World
Government. It does not simply mean that one has simply read his writings to have an
integral consciousness but to be “ready to develop forward through the dynamic spiral of
consciousness unfolding” (Wilber, 2000).

And P. R. Sarkar, a social reformer and spiritual teacher, presents the functions of this
World Government. He suggests that this “world government will be a law-making body
and the different federations will have executive powers to implement the laws passed by
the world government” (Sarkar, 2002). Bjonnes presents the four main benefits of a
World Federation or World Government that Sarkar is suggesting:
1. The huge expenses of maintaining a militia in each country will be reduced, and
these savings can be used to benefit people's needs.
2. There will be a great reduction in psychological tension.
3. There will be less bloodshed.
4. There will be free movement of people from one corner of the globe to the other.

Bjonnes notes that Wilber’s contribution is the creation of blueprint of the cultural
and political landscape in developing a better world, and Sarkar has also mapped its
economic aspects. He points out the stand of Sarkar that political democracy cannot
fulfill all "the hopes and aspirations of people or provide the basis for constructing a
strong and healthy human society. For this the only solution is to establish economic
democracy."

According to Sarkar, the following guidelines are needed to establish economic


democracy:
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• The minimum requirements of life must be guaranteed to all. The minimum
requirements of a particular age -- including food, clothing, housing, education
and medical care -- should be guaranteed to all.
• Increasing purchasing power must be guaranteed to each and every individual.
• Local people will control economic power, consequently local raw materials will
be used to promote the economic prosperity of the local people. This will create
industries based on locally available raw materials and ensure full employment
for all local people.
• Outsiders must be strictly prevented from interfering in the local economy. The
outflow of local capital must be stopped by strictly preventing outsiders or a
floating population from participating in any type of economic activity in the local
area.

Conclusion
How do we then contribute in this process? As Wilber suggests, be “ready to develop
forward through the dynamic spiral of consciousness unfolding.” Because one’s effort to
transform one’s self means transforming the world.

11
Sources
Books
Hamilton, Clive. The Mystic Economist, Willow Park Press, 1994.

Mclaughlin, Corinne and Davidson, Gordon. Spiritual Politics, Ballantine Books, New
York: 1994.

Tolle, Eckhart. Power of Now, 2005

Wilber, Ken. The Eye of the Spirit, Shambala: Boston & London, 1998.

Wilber, Ken. Marriage of Sense and Soul, Shambala: Boston & London, 2000.

Internet
© Copyright 1999, The National Values Center, Inc. All Rights Reserved
http://www.spiraldynamics.com/book/SDreview_Dinan.htm
Economic Democracy, World Government, and Globalization, By Roar Bjonnes, (2003)
(http://www.proutworld.org/index.php?
option=com_content&view=article&id=102&Itemid=74)
http://www.fudomouth.net/rhizome/kwintegralvision.htm
http://www.proutworld.org/index.php?
option=com_content&view=article&id=100%3Aconfederated-world-
government&catid=49%3Aworld-government&Itemid=74
“Talks on Prout” (1961), Prout in a Nutshell 15, Copyright Ananda Marga Publications
2002 (http://www.proutworld.org/index.php?
option=com_content&view=article&id=100&Itemid=74)
The Centering Prayer of Thomas
Keating(http://www.concentric.net/~Cosmas/centering_prayer.htm
Following the Buddha's Footsteps
http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/Buddhism/footsteps.htm
Self-Inquiry
http://www.realization.org/page/topics/self_inquiry.htm