Myth of the Given and The Work

 

I read through the thread on Myth of the Given and The Work at the Integral Naked forum, and learned something more about the myth of the given.

Apparently, working with and seeing through the myth of the given goes beyond the simple version of it: recognizing appearances as just appearances, filtered in numerous ways, conditioned by infinite causes. It also includes a specific way to analyze why it appears as it does through bringing in the intersubjective, and the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st person perspectives.

I guess we have do it one that one specific way for it to count 🙂

So does The Work do it in that one particular way? Let’s see…

  • Intersubjective. Well, The Work is intersubjective in one way (I know this one doesn’t count), in that it is often done with a partner, and also shared with others. Also, it is intersubjective in that many of the subquestions (under question no. 3) specifically helps us look at how our beliefs are created in community, and appears real because they are shared by community. Questions no. 4 and the turnarounds helps us see how they are not absolutes, and that different communities indeed see and filter things differently.
  • 3rd, 2nd and 1st person perspectives. As with the 3-2-1 process, the initial statement and subquestions to question no. 3 is an exploration of the 3rd person perspective (he/she/it). The second person perspective (you) comes in mostly when we work directly with another, reading our inquiries on statements on them while they listen, and we then talk about it afterwards. And the first person (I) comes in throughout.
  • The filter of context. For me, and also others it seems, an analysis of the role of context follows from some of the subquestions for question no. 3, as outlined under the first point. For instance, when we look at the question “when did you first have that thought” it is often clear how it came through culture, family, religion, or some other influence.

This isn’t to say that The Work completely addresses the Myth of the Given, nor that it has to. Also, maybe some additional subquestions, and different configurations of doing it, would make it more aligned? (One question could be “where did the belief come from”, although the answer to that one usually comes through the question “when did you first have that belief”.)

And even if The Work already addresses the Myth of the Given, through many of its subquestions and the turnarounds, why make it explicit? Why not let people discover it for themselves? If it is made explicit, it can too easily just be another myth, another belief, another “should”, another way to blind ourselves.

I also see that the Myth of the Given seemed so obvious to me initially, that we filter the world in innumerable ways, and that these filters are created by infinite causes. But it is apparently not that simple. I still don’t quite get how KW and others use it…

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Inquiry: The Work is blind to the myth of the given

 

I found these beautiful inquiries by someone who, like me, appreciate the work of Ken Wilber and The Work by Byron Katie.

Here are a few excerpts:

Belief: The Work ignores intersubjectivity. I can turn this around right away.

Turnaround:

  1. The Work considers intersubjectivity. I do the Work with my partner. I listen to her Judge your Neighbor worksheet on me and facilitate her doing the Work on me while I listen with an open heart. She does the same thing for me. I couldn’t ask for a better mirror and if that isn’t intersubjectivity what is? The Work can be done with family, friends, colleagues, enemies, anybody. I learn an enormous amount when I facilitate another – about them and me.
  2. I ignore intersubjectivity. When I defend myself against criticism as a knee jerk reaction. As Katie often says, Defense is the first act of War. When I believe my thoughts about others without enquiry. When I do not question my thoughts about me (my multiple selves – parent, child, adult).

    …..

Turnarounds to “The Work does not take into consideration the evolution of consciousness”:

  1. The Work does take into consideration the evolution of consciousness. The Work questions the lies/pathologies that surface at every structure stage of consciousness. In the process, the untrue beliefs are left behind and I am freed to evolve or not. As Katie says, there are only 3 kinds of business; my business, your business and God’s business. Eros is God’s business.
  2. I do not take into consideration the evolution of others’ consciousness. I believe that others can’t evolve, that they are blocked or stuck believing their myths. I believe this about my partner, my friends and work colleagues. I tend to believe the worst about them. And yes, I believe that of some of the Greens in this forum! Sorry guys, my bad.
  3. I do not take into consideration the evolution of my consciousness. I often consider my problem to be hopeless. My understanding won’t get better. My fear won’t get better. My relationship won’t get better.

    …..

Turnarounds for “The Work is limited by the Myth of the Given”.

  1. The Work in not limited by the Myth of the Given. The Work (4 questions) investigates any myth (beliefs) that I take as given (true). For example I believe the myth that my father is dead when his genes are alive in me, his memory is alive in me, his image is alive in me. By investigating every story, the Work leaves me as what I am (truth) in the moment. As Katie says, the Work takes nothing away and gives nothing. It’s only 4 questions.
  2. I limit myself by the Myth (lies) that I take to be Given. There is no question in my mind that I was suffering from the myths that I believed. The energy that I use in holding on to beliefs that conflict with reality limits my creativity and action.
  3. I believe the myth of the other/(s) to be given. I project my thoughts (myths) on to others and think that my image of them is real (given). Who is an Other without my story?

Surface judgments in the aqal world

 

One thing I notice among some in the integral world, including from Wilber himself sometimes, are quick judgments of what others are doing based on surface characteristics.

Sometimes, it seems that folks are looking for the official aqal lingo and if they don’t find it, then it can’t be aqal. Or they may look for something to be explicitly expressed, and if it isn’t, at least not where they are looking, then it is assumed that the author don’t understand it in the first place.

Again, this is something we all do, but to me, this is especially obvious in the integral world.

For instance, at the end of “Integral Spirituality”, Ken Wilber lists a number of popular teachers and authors, and apparently automatically gives them the stamp of being blind to the “myth of the given”.

I may be wrong, but for the ones I am more familiar with, they certainly do not seem to be in the grips of the myth of the given. If anything, they offer a practical path out of it. For instance, by doing The Work, we come to see any story as just a story, nothing more. And the same is the case for Hameed Ali (Almaas, Diamond Approach). Even as he uses certain descriptive terms to point to certain experiences, he is obviously clear on experiences as influenced by culture, biology, states, development and much more, and that there is nothing absolute in any of it.

Another example may be this blog, which I am sure does not appear very aqal to most people. After all, it is almost exclusively upper left quadrant focused, and does hardly ever use aqal terminology. But by looking at the content rather than surface markers, you’d find an acknowledgment of the equal importance and contribution of each quadrant, and of the importance of evolution/development and how the world is filtered differently through a combination of lines centered at different phases of their development.

And that is the case with a great deal of other writing that does not use explicit aqal terminology.