california dreaming, part 1: big mind big money

(i want to post about my recent cali trip, but i have so much to say the post would be way long. therefore i’m dividing it into three parts. part one will be on my thoughts and experience at the integral theory conference, part two will be my “thinking aloud” so to speak about the two schools i interviewed at, and part three will be my feelings about my return to ‘the city’ after last visiting 11 years ago.)

i’m not sure where to begin here, except to say that maybe there are not a whole lot of words that could describe my feelings about the conference. sure, at times i felt out of my league (many of the attendees either have doctorates or are doctoral candidates), but this fact alone probably helped to raise a few of my own developmental lines, especially the cognitive. at the same time i felt like i held my own, because i’ve studied at least the basics of integral theory as much as anyone else there. and, because of that fact, spending three and a half days with others quite intimate with integral theory felt like coming home. it was wonderful being around others who ‘speak integral.’ all the little second tier inside jokes that would go over like a lead balloon in everyday life just absolutely warmed my heart. but more importantly, i was well fed by most of the workshops and panels i attended, which were often led by authors whose books i’ve cherished for a number of years.

some of the workshops i attended were ‘merely’ quite interesting, such as ian blei’s ‘accessing multi-perspective consciousness using the enneagram’ or paul helfrich’s ‘the channeling phenomenon: a multi-methodological assessment.’ they were good, but there were others that for me were much more applicable personally and/or where the speakers were just more engaging. michael raffanti and toni gregory did an outstanding, politically incorrect presentation, ‘toward a post-conventional understanding of diversity dynamics.’ toni is a gorgeous african-american woman who believes that in the diversity wars, white people have been given a bad rap and are just as much a part of the puzzle as other so-called people of color. this is something i have thought for awhile, but it’s not really something you can just say out loud. i’ll go into my take on diversity in another post at some point in the near-future, but i’ll just say that i’m in total agreement with her saying that diversity is a problem that will never be solved, especially at the levels that the problem is occurring at. the only way it can be even successfully approached is from an integral point of view, which will be seen as politically incorrect, especially if green has anything to say about it.

i also loved giles herrara’s presentation ‘the fate of homosexuality: an integral catastrophe.’ he explained how christianity was the first major world religion to denigrate same-sex love, and how through some distortions and repressions as shown in the aqal model, homosexual behavior has been reduced, via christianity, to being strictly about behavior, taking out the individual, cultural, and social aspects of it. homosexuality is starting to take its rightful place once again in other quadrants outside the upper right, but christianity is still a quite strong influence in trying to repress those expressions.

my other favorite individual presentation was emine kiray’s ‘integral politics: the islamic movement and political crisis in turkey.’ one reason i liked it so much was that she was the only presenter i saw that chose not to use powerpoint; her presentation was strictly lecture and it was so much more conversational and engaging than any of the others. i think that it also allowed her to be more passionate in her expression instead of having to wait on slides to load. in addition, her subject matter was a fascinating look at islamic (and islamist) politics functioning within a secular state, and how green, orange, and amber are going through their various machinations.

both panels i attended, integral spirituality and integral feminism, were simply wonderful as well, but the latter one was in a league of its own (no pun intended, in reference to the movie of similar name about some awesome women). it was 90 minutes of discussing the meanings of masculine and feminine and whether or not those terms should even exist. at the transpersonal levels, they don’t exist, but here in the manifest world they do, and each person has some of each within, and then there’s the notion of confusing gender, which is in one’s head, and sex, which has to do with one’s biological makeup, and wow, it was an intense 90 minutes. cathy, you would have loved it. 🙂

there’s so much more that could be said, but this is so long already. i feel so privileged to have been able to hear roger walsh, suzanne cook-greuter (well, maybe not… she is a brilliant researcher, not so brilliant though in the public speaking department), and then to have done a big mind session led by diane musho hamilton. diane (who was also on the spirituality and feminism panels) just has this wonderfully sweet aura around her, yet there is an underlying fierceness. the big mind process (click on the earlier link), well, maybe it just reminded me of what i already knew, but it brought home that all these little separate parts of me (the controller, the protector, the innocent child, the lover) are actually not me, my ultimate self; they are merely aspects of my ego.

okay, enough already… i’m sure i’ll make plenty of references to the conference in the days and weeks to come. the next one is scheduled for 2010, and i’m already there. however, i have to mention the wonderful people that i volunteered alongside, and especially the volunteer coordinator, carissa. she truly did a wonderful job in training us and helping things run smoothly overall, including an uncanny ability to nip snafus in the bud. it was a true pleasure working under her guidance and with the more than 30 other volunteers from the bay area, across the country, and even from around the world. i look forward to working with everyone again in two years, at which time i *may* be living in the bay area, which segues so nicely to the upcoming part two of california dreaming …

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