In slowly reading Integral Spirituality by Ken Wilber, I see that 99% of what he writes about goes straight in. It rings true, which just means that it fits nicely into my experiences and conscious worldview. It fits with how this personality is organized right now.
The one percent
And then there is that one percent where the question comes up: Is this true? It isn’t, of course, in any absolute sense. But is is true in a relative way, as a useful model that fits available information? That is where the mind goes, as it does when beliefs does not fit what the world comes up with. We are drawn to it, trying to make some sense of it. Trying to find a resolution. At least if it is important enough.
One of these is the question of seeing zone #2 stages/structures in meditation or contemplation.
Zone #1 and #2: immediate awareness and stages of development
Zone #1 is whatever is alive in immediate awareness. It is what we explore through techniques such as mediation, self-inquiry, contemplation and so on. Zone #2 is the structures and stages of development, along any line of development, and these are commonly explored through studies of a number of people over time, first by finding the stages/phases of development within a certain line, then the sequence among them.
KW says that nobody has ever seen any stages in mediation or contemplation. It is true, in that these are theoretical constructs. (Which means that they can appear as a thought in mediation or contemplation, but that is a little different!)
At the same time, it may not be the whole picture.
The ways zone #2 shows up in meditation, self-inquiry and contemplation
For instance, through mediation or forms of self-inquiry, the widening circles of care, concern and compassion show up quite clearly. They are hard to avoid, as they permeate my whole human self – from view to emotions to interests to behaviors, and they are highlighted by whatever ethical guidelines my tradition has set up. These guidelines tend to be world-centric, so anything in me at ego- or ethno-centric levels will be highlighted and stick out as a sore thumb.
I find that for myself, these questions naturally come up in mediation and self-inquiry: Do I act in ways that only take myself, my human self, into consideration? Only my group? The whole of humanity, the earth, future generations?
These are questions that – I will guess – a majority of spiritual practitioners and teachers will be very much interested in. How do I show up now, in terms of my circle of care, concern and compassion? How wide are the circles, in my view, my emotions, my behavior?
Also, I may find that there are shifts over time. I may have acted mostly from the egocentric phase earlier, and am now on ethnocentric, with some worldcentric. And this will show up. I will notice the change.
The way it looks for me is that the zone #1 techniques may very well yield zone #2 insights and realizations. Although in doing so, these zone #1 techniques use a zone #2 methodology, so in a way – they become zone #2 techniques.
So it means that it is true, mostly, that zone #1 investigations do not see zone #2 levels. Yet what we see as zone #1 techniques can also be used as zone #2 techniques. They can, in a rough way, discover some of the zone #2 characteristics – some of the broad stages and how there is a shift from one to another over time.
Teachers discovering zone #2 in working with students
The same is most likely true for spiritual teachers. If they didn’t notice some of these stages of development in themselves, they will see them in their students.
They are bound to notice the changes among students, and in students over time. In the stream of students passing before them, year after year.
Some may move through these faster, other more slowly, and other again maybe not at all. But move through them they do, and it will show up in their worldview, their interests, how they experience their world, who and what they have compassion for, and how they live their lives.
A rough map with zone #1 techniques
So it seems that a rough map of stages of development is very much possible in the context of meditation, self-inquiry and contemplation.
At the very least, the widening circles of care, concern and compassion will be relatively obvious, going from the small circle of myself, to the wider circle of my group, to the even wider circle of all humanity, all life, future generations, the whole of existence, and reflected in any aspect of my life and experience.
Other lines of development may also be relatively obvious, at least in a general way: for instance the spiritual live of development, and maybe also the emotional and interpersonal, depending on what the specific tradition emphasizes. And different spiritual traditions do of course include different stages of development, at least in one or a few lines.
Detailed explorations with zone #2 methodologies
KWs point may be that zone #2 methodologies, as developed in modern psychology, is needed for a more detailed exploration and mapping of zone #2, and that is of course right.
But it does not mean that zone #1 and its techniques is blind to it, oblivious to the relatively obvious changes and maturing in at least some lines of development.