The 3.4 Discoursive-Turquoise Stage

An Investigation in its Scope and Nature through Developmental Psychology and an Archeology of Spirit

General Considerations before Reading

The 3.4 Discoursive-Turquoise Stage – Leaving Behind Mind and its Meaningful Ideas

The following stage description might be overwhelmingly complex however, it is no artificial creating of complexity but only representative of the respective complexity mind has reached at this stage. It is the consequence of integrating purely abstract observation with the self-description people at this altitude offer of their body, life, and mind, within their growing awareness of the absolute.

It is an attempt to resolve the paradox of map and territory that lies therein that an abstract description, through its seeming simplicity, can give us the feeling of understanding, but factually leaves us merely blind through superficiality. Simultaneously, remarks and quotes of the territory, through their individuality and the longing for transfer of abstraction, might easily give us the feeling of incomprehensibility – though the only way to understand and later apply the abstractions correctly.

Therefore consider the aspect of territory that is delivered through numerous quotes, too, as a transmission. Even if mental understanding seems unobtainable, each quote will suck you into the mind of someone at this stage. This can deeply reshape your inner understanding of development and nurture the very connection to this stage within yourself – without mental comprehension.

My attempt here, of course, might misrepresent some of the thinkers I mention, please forgive me.

Too, you might for better understanding consider to read the introduction into The Model of Homeostatic Hierarchical Integration through Communicative Action as well as The Farther Reaches of Human Development, where foundational considerations about these later stages in relation to other models are elucidated.

An Experimental Archeological Investigation into

The 3.4 Discoursive-Turquoise Stage – Leaving Behind Mind and its Meaningful Ideas

Genuine and Degenerate Fourthness

The 3.4 Discoursive Stage is the last stage of Thirdness, the Layer of Mind and Meaningful Ideas. Therefore, it is a living reality based on the fourth homeostatic function, that of self-thematization. Additionally, to the reflections on the workings of mind and its meaningful ideas created by self-thematization, it is simultaneously a growing and deepening of an involutionary experience. Within the “immediacy of existence the linear, irreversible time is abolished. The experienced process of the past and the vision of an anticipated open evolution are experienced in a four-dimensional reality”, so Erich Jantsch (1984, p.405). The homeostasis of thirdness thus is completed in its quadruplicate form and all four, mental adaptation, mental differentiation, mental integration, and mental self-thematization, gradually open up to the informing descent of the next layer and the unifying ascent into it. There are many versions of expressing these four functions. Some rather stick only to those inherent to thirdness, like Talcott Parsons (2005), when he sees social systems, the outcomes of our minds, as a series of adaptation, goal-orientation, integration, and latent pattern maintenance while others like Jantsch (1984), with his cosmic evolution, sociobiological evolution, and sociocultural evolution that open up into a spiritual mind, or Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (2005) rather review the completion of the three layered growth through body, life, and mind they now consolidate. Deleuze and Guattari respectively reference a series of firstness as the body of the earth, secondness as the despotic body, thirdness as the integrative body of capital-money, and a degenerate form of fourthness which is the full body without organs in their Anti Oedipus. The final step is a nothingness that is anything but nothing for them, rather “the unproductive, the unconsumable, [that] serves as a surface for the recording of the entire process of production of desire, so that desiring-machines seem to emanate from it” (Deleuze & Guattari 2005, p.11). This metaphorical body fulfills similar to Parsons` latent pattern maintenance several characteristic functions of this stage which we will describe later on, namely: the generation of meaning, being a source of freedom, and promoting a sort of moral attitude in the ever-unfolding self-enacting evolution, whereby “an entire network of new syntheses is now woven, marking the surface off into co-ordinates, like a grid” (ibid. p.12) – the process of creating wholeness, that according to Ken Wilber (2018, p.338) at this Turquoise Altitude “is perceived within but also across several different holistic schemes”.

However, as profound, and far reaching the expressions at this stage seem to be, they still are only harbingers of the next momentous leap in human evolution, even though Alfred North Whitehead (1978, p. 354) in Process and Reality describes the fourth step within this layer, where the creative action of the earlier three completes itself, already as a moment “where the kingdom of heaven is with us today […] [, which] is the love of God for the world” or Mark Gafni (2012, p.54) relentlessly celebrates the “Evolutionary Emergent of Unique Self” that supersedes the pre-differentiated ego, the separate self, and the true self – and thus is the “enlightened identification of your uniqueness, [where] you realize your specialness, which is a wondrous and gorgeous expression of your very enlightenment […] [that] paradoxically is the very realization that opens you up to fully perceive and delight in the specialness of others” (ibid. p.63).

The crossing into a realm which Sri Aurobindo (2005, p.282), in The Life Divine, calls next to infinite existence, consciousness and bliss the “fourth Name – fourth to that in its descent, fourth to us in our ascension” – has not come to pass yet. Whereas the self-thematization within thirdness is basically a view of the function of integration, that is underlying and guiding the whole layer, the final Fourth as layer not stage is Spirit and Absolute Truth, superior to the powers of “Mind, Life and Matter, the lower trilogy, […] [which is] also indispensable to all cosmic being” (ibid. p.282) and thus the genuine not partial, imperfect and instable expression of the homeostatic function of universal synthesis within and through the means of self-thematization. Only when this crossing is completed, the correlative transformation itself becomes real as a unifying point of view. A person will no longer be concerned so much with meaning rather with the structure of the whole that embraces body, life, mind, within a spiritualized self and cosmos. An entirety that is connected to “its supreme status [which] is the truth- consciousness of the Infinite, the inherent light and power of self-knowledge and all-knowledge of the Supreme who is the self of all, the living eternal truth […] [which has within its] self-realization and self-manifestation, that resides in this self-knowledge and all-knowledge of all truth of his being, the will and delight to put forth in his universal existence” (Aurobindo 2006, p.908).

This last stage of Thirdness which we are going to investigate here, in an attempt to show its own dissolution, is still within the realm of separation not in that of oneness. Aurobindo has named it the Higher Mind; a mind “able to perceive and deal with other souls as other forms of its pure self” (ibid, p.181). It is identical with Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel`s (2011, §403) Ethical Life which is the experience of insides touching insides where “the disposition of the individuals is the knowledge of the substance and the identity of all its interests with the whole” however, still centered within one`s integrative subjectivity not in absolute spirit. More mundanely formulated by Kohlberg (1976, p.132) we can speak of a stage which is “the perspective of any rational individual, that acknowledges the essence of morality or acknowledges that any human contains within itself its end-purpose and has to be treated accordingly”. For Clare Graves (1981, p.7) an existential ethics prevails here that includes the standpoint of this degree of moral maturity insofar “several legitimate interpretations [exist,] and several sets of values are legitimate” – which goes past the limits of the 3.3 Integrative Stage with its single hermeneutically-integrative procedures fostered to arrive at a single set of values and beliefs. In The Neverending Quest he adds that by this “universality is valued over provinciality” (Graves 2005, p.381) since the cognitive or systemic existential perspective is “able to face existence in all its dimensions, both those which seem to be known and those which are unexplained, even to the point of valuing inconsistencies, oppositions and flat contradictions” (ibid. p.380).

Sensing the Roots of Morals in Paradox

Accordingly, the entering of this stage is deeply rooted in the transcendence of the 3.3 Integrative`s, i.e. the Pluralist and Autonomous persons` “both… and” thinking. This rather serial thinking that leads to transitive values of resolving inconsistency, opposition and contradiction is sublated into the form of paradox that now enables to instantaneously embrace two sides of the coin from a universal standpoint that is projected out on the particular or phenomenon. The discoursive stage thus gives rise to a new moral law quite different to that of the 2.4 Conformist stage and its final resolution into insignificance. Thinkers at the 3.3 Stage still are stuck within the use of the earlier concrete logic rooted in life. Thus they might be misled for example to the extremes of an August Comte (1875, p.462f) who insists in the Positive Philosophy – an attempt for a new science-based religion – that until “the full rational establishment of positive morality has taken place, it is the business of true philosophers, to confirm it in the estimation of the world by the sustained superiority of their own conduct, personal, domestic, and social; giving the strongest conceivable evidence of the possibility of developing, […] an irresistible impulse to steady practical devotedness”. John Stuart Mill (1884, p.29) summarizes this worldview as “a despotism of society over the individual, surpassing anything contemplated in the political ideal of the most rigid disciplinarian among the ancient philosophers”. Since the Pluralist and Autonomous persons are not yet guided by the unity of the difference between the universal and the particular, a unity which is the transcendental foundation for self-thematization, but by that of the necessary and the contingent. Necessity, if it shoots beyond its goal, the inclusion of the early 3.3 Integrative`s relativism, genealogical investigations and critique of power structures in self and society, that are due to differentiation, into a integrative point of view through quasi mythological structures like self-actualization or organizational learning, it becomes pressured conformity to these mythologies; it for example creates the “need to have others ‘become the most they can be’ […] [and] Autonomous persons may feel impatient with others’ pace of development and frustrated with their ‘unwillingness’ to grow despite their efforts and support”, as Susanne Cook-Greuter (2013b, p.65) confirms; Wilber (2018, p.337) observers that teal altitudes “leading-edge nature feeds into a self-reflection that thus can reactivate narcissistic tendencies”.

Immanuel Kant, who’s Critique of Practical Reason served as Kohlberg`s blueprint for moral stage six,  illustrates the movement beyond necessity when he states “here now is the place to explain the paradox of the method in a critique of practical reason, namely that the concept of good and evil is not to be determined before the moral law, but rather only afterwards and by means of that law” (Kant 2012, p.83). It is the recognition that for Susanne Cook-Greuter (2010, p.60) is so definitive for the discoursive stage, that she called it Construct-Aware, namely that people here “realize, for instance, that concepts and their definitions are based on arbitrary conventions that make reality appear static and fixed forever”. Kant (2012, p.6) points to this, when he writes that there suddenly is a “paradoxical demand to make oneself, as the subject of freedom, into noumenon, but also simultaneously, with regard to nature, into phenomenon in one’s own empirical consciousness” – which supposes that we have to make our own noumenal laws but at the same time it seems like nature and the empirical world is judging our deeds. Ken Wilber (1981, pp.143f) in No Boundaries offers a different paradox, that of unity consciousness: “You can`t really do anything to get it […] and yet it is even more obvious that if we don`t do something, we remain just as we are”. If one will, one can read his moral law into it that says that unity conscious is always present however, “that special conditions are appropriate (but not necessary) for the actualization of unity consciousness” (ibid. p.144) – and these conditions don`t lead anywhere but already are unity. And thus we must learn that “true spiritual practice springs from, but not toward, enlightenment […] [so that] every act springs from eternity, from no-boundary, and, just as it is, is a perfect and unobstructed expression of the all” (ibid. pp.144 & 145f). By this “everything we do becomes our practice, our prayer – not just zazen, chanting, the sacraments, mantra meditation, sutra recitation or bible readings – but everything, from washing dishes to doing income and taxes” (ibid. p.146). As one might see here, people at this stage embrace both sides of a coin and while Wilber paradoxically embraces insides and outsides or enlightenment and profane everyday life and Kant the difference between mind and nature Hans Jonas, a American Jewish philosopher, transcends the boundaries of today`s and tomorrow`s man in The Imperative of Responsibility, when he writes about the being of a future humanity: “An imperative that despite being directed towards future man and the necessary preservation of planet earth and its resources but the idea of man, which is of the kind, that it demands its presence in the world […] [as] a restraint to adventure humanity” (Jonas, 1984, p.91).

Cherishing Freedom and Individuality

The aspect of embracing paradox as one of the main qualities of Graves` (2005) conception of the existentialist stage is, too, central for Cook-Greuter`s (2013a, p.81) conception of the Ego-Aware stage. Very similar to the passage from The Neverending Quest “one must learn to live in the tension of the paradox, that as a human being one must embrace one’s need for meaning while, simultaneously, understanding the futility of such an endeavor” (Cook-Greuter`s 2013, p.81). At the core of this tension we find the function of integration. As mentioned above it is at the basis of the self-thematization internally experienced as one`s 3.4 Discoursive subjectivity. A subjectivity that is oftentimes referred to as “evolving consciousness – which means of autonomy and liberation – and of mind”, when we let it be voiced by Jantsch (1986, p.411). On the one hand this integration is seen within the ability of the Higher Mind to be “a knowledge formulating itself on a basis of self-existent all-awareness and manifesting some part of its integrality, a harmony of its significances put into thought-form” (Aurobindo 2005, p.975). The person here can see the integrative whole that Thirdness generates and thus “a value system truly rooted in knowledge and reality” (Graves 2005, p.366) arises – a world seen kaleidoscopically as a systemic whole “with different views demanding different attention” (Graves 1981, p.7). Likewise Cook-Greuter (2010, p.61) mentions that “people become able to perceive and process more information from more and more diverse sources […] [and therefore] they become increasingly aware of how complex all phe­nomena and relationships among them are”. Therefore they tend to no longer ignore other points of view which might have been the case at the 3.3 Integrative, i.e. Autonomous stage, rather “they truly appreciate others need to make sense of their lives within their own means […] without being blind for their obvious shortcomings” (ibid. p.62) as broached above. Jürgen Habermas (1991, p.59) in his Remarks on Discourse Ethics defined the ability of moral stage six as a procedure of ideal role taking: “An understanding of the different landscapes of interest, motivated by different backgrounds, and their demands within others as much as a consciousness for an antecedent cohesiveness of all participants in a discourse, objectively found on the basis of socialization”. For him discourse as a spread higher mentality that realizes universality in the sense of an integral vision: “A consciousness of tenured solidarity, the certainty of close union sprung from a common nexus of life” (ibid. p.72).

It therefore is neither accidental that Immanuel Kant (2004, p.69) in his 1784 treatise What is Enlightenment proclaimed that for “enlightenment nothing is required but freedom, and indeed the most harmless among all the things to which the term freedom can properly be applied: It is the freedom to make public use of one’s reason at every point”, nor that for Graves (2005, p.369) the existentialist person is “feeling an expansive sense of freedom, […] unconcerned with social disapproval or any of the usual fears of the other levels […] [through which] the problems of man today may fade away as, from this new perception, man searches for better, non-violent, and non-submissive ways of being”. However, so Graves, it is an attitude of “express self for what self desires, and others need, but never at the expense of others, and in a manner that all life, not just my life will profit” (ibid. p.369). Consequently, another philosopher of freedom who says that his doctrine of liberty “may have the air of a truism, [but] there is no doctrine which stands more directly opposed to the general tendency of existing opinion and practice” (Mill 1884, p.27). It is John Stuart Mill (1884, p.21) who writes in On liberty, unison with Graves, that the main “principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection” – when someone lives on the expanse of others. William Torbert (1991, p.6), in the transition to and within the first quarter of the 3.4 Discoursive Stage suggests that “we need a theory and practice of liberating structure – a theory of power, a practice of management, and a method of inquiry that integrate freedom and order, empowerment and discipline, inquiry and productivity, transformation and stability – to guide […] in generating outcomes consistent with their dreams, their duties, and their responsibilities” – a quality that he ascribes to his latest developmental stage, the Magician or Ironist. With their ability to apprehend a degenerate version of universality, people at this stage, like Lewis Mumford (1967) in The Myth of the Machine, can see threats for this liberty throughout all of human history by tracking deep underlying archetypes that self-enact themselves. And so, Mumford (1967, p.12) summarizes that the human megamachine whether through Egyptian pyramids or modern skyscrapers and space-rockets led to “colossal miscarriages of a dehumanized power-centered culture monotonously soil the pages of history”. The unrecognized workings of the archetypal machine then “cancelled out “immense gains in valuable knowledge and usable productivity […] by equally great increases in ostentatious waste, paranoid hostility, insensate destructiveness, hideous random extermination” (ibid. p.13).

For the American philosopher of law Martha Nussbaum, the imperative at the entering of this stage, that protects us from these ironical and unplanned counterreactions, and which secures freedom is patience. In Liberty of Conscience she muses into the entering of discoursiveness “patience is, we might say, the tutelary spirit of the law, the attentiveness and respectfulness that make vague abstract principles into a concrete reality by which we can seek to live together” (Nussbaum 2008, p.363). But “overlapping consensus” as Nussbaum (2008, p.362) calls this recognition within patience “that the space we share with others is a space of diverse opinions about ultimate matters, and we respect the springs of conscience in our fellow citizens that lead them to diverse conclusions by diverse routes, even when we find these routes and these conclusions profoundly mistaken” is not the only need at this stage.

Investigating and Driving Meaning

There is not only self-conscious and self-thematized integration into an ever more universal communication community or spiritual syntheses as “union of difference” as Teilhard de Chardin (1955, p.262), in The Phenomenon of Man, calls this internal sight of any particularity as an expression of universality: An interplay of “all consciousnesses as well as all the conscious; each particular consciousness remaining conscious of itself at the end of the operation, and even each particular consciousness becoming still more itself and thus more clearly distinct from others the closer it gets to them” (ibid. p.262) that is the higher iteration of the 2.4 Conformists identity conflict at this stage. Nor is there solely a longing for assimilating “into an ever more complex and comprehensive theory of everything”, like (Cook-Greuter 2013a, p.78) expresses the correlative aspect of self-thematization. Rather self-thematizing integration means, too, borrowing from Susanne Cook-Greuter (2013a, p.85), that “Postautonomous meaning seekers are capable of perceiving the structure of their own thinking and feeling habits, comparing them to that of others and discovering the fundamental limitations of all rational thought and the limits of language” – as already pointed to through Kant. Henceforth, they “are intrigued by the human need for meaning making and its ubiquitous expression across time and the known world” (ibid. p.85), that according to Jantsch (1986, p.416) lies within “the unevolved as well as within the fully evolved; both is reaching up to the divine”. A perspective that arises according to him within the third and highest layer “where for the self-reflexive mind self-reference becomes self-recognition” (ibid. p.415).

Self-reflexivity and meaning from it therefore pays credit to the seeming fact that Thirdness, as we define it here in accordance with Charles Sanders Peirce (1998, p.160), is “the Idea of that which is such as it is as being a Third, or Medium, between a Second and its First. That is to say, it is Representation as an element of the Phenomenon” – it is mind mediating between Firstness, the physical senses, and Thirdness, the concrete essence of life. Differently expressed, it is according to Aristotle (2011, 410a) the soul “that is the connection of two, one of which is the form and the other mater”. It is this soulfulness of the mind with its meaningful ideas that is leading the actualization of mater that is pure potentiality into “accomplished reality” (ibid. 410a). Becoming aware that Thirdness is a paradoxical mechanism to actualize potentiality through representation, hence interpreting reality, and that exactly this movement is upholding meaning is essential for this stage. Like Jean Paul Sartre (1984, p.436) writes in Being and Nothingness this implies “for consciousness the permanent possibility of effecting a rupture with its own past, of wrenching itself away from its past so as to be able to consider it in the light of a non-being of future and so as to be able to confer on it the meaning which it has in terms of the project of a meaning which it does not have”. We need to create through internal self-referential thought a blueprint for ourselves so that we are not already but yearn to become, incorporate “a nothing which provides a foundation for freedom” (ibid. p.34). The German sociologist Niklas Luhmann (2017, p.17) refers to this rupture as “a special mode of processing differences between a system and its environment”. It is special insofar as it generates “focused complexity as indeterminate determination […] [that] is both reduction and maintenance at the same time, and exactly adequate to uphold identity formation, insofar as it does not give up the totality of possibility, bust reconstructs it as a selection of relevant actualizations” (ibid. p.17 & p.90).

Again, meaning as a result of freedom at this stage adheres to morality, towards conscience principles. As Sartre (1984, pp.555f) drastically formulates: “I find myself suddenly alone and without help, engaged in a world for which I bear the whole responsibility without being able, whatever I do, to tear myself away from this responsibility for an instant”. Thus, in accord with the earlier mentioned Kant (2012, p.42) he is saying, that “moral law expresses nothing other than the autonomy of pure, practical reason, i.e. freedom, and this is itself the formal condition of all maxims”. However, since the 3.4 Discoursive Stage is one of full reciprocity, this individual freedom is highly driven by and towards consensus – especially about integrative modes of being. Not only Kant`s (2012, p.20) imperative where a law can be “universally valid only if it holds without the contingent or subjective conditions differentiating one rational being from another” but the many concepts from discourse to a point omega highlight that. Especially Habermas (2016) in his Theory of Communicative Action provides the insight into the powers of shared solution. A global view is only possible “if one drops the paradigm of a philosophy of consciousness, namely that of an objects imagining and of these objects laboring subject, on behalf of the paradigm of a philosophy of language, that of intersubjective understanding or communication and subordinates the cognitive-instrumental aspect under a comprehensive communicative rationality”.

For Whitehead (1978, p.47) “modification of subjective aim, is the foundation of our experience of responsibility, of approbation or of disapprobation, of self-approval or of self-reproach, of freedom, of emphasis”. Freedom and meaning as well as morality are for him within the structure of a subject-superject at this stage; a process whereby an actual entity, e.g. a human being, projects itself forward through connecting with a potential for itself and by this is “determining its own self-creation” (ibid. p.69). Here we might tap into the basic substance of Higher Mind according to Aurobindo (2005, p.974), that as “a unitarian sense of being with a powerful multiple dynamization capable of the formation of a multitude of aspects of knowledge, ways of action, forms and significances of becoming, of all of which there is a spontaneous inherent knowledge” – it is actualizing potentials under the guidance of meaning, freedom and morality. A dynamization that according to Graves (2005, p.373f) makes the systemic existential person find “better solutions because, apparently, there was more brain-power brought to bear upon their thinking than you had in others”.

Enabling Prophecy and Reflexiveness

Though the 3.4 Discoursive Higher Mind “is able to perceive and deal with other souls as other forms of its pure self” (Aurobindo 2005, p. 181) it is not yet completely spiritual in the sense of being pure and not degenerate Fourthness and thus an expression of oneness and spirit itself. Nonetheless, it is no longer completely mental either. It enables the interplay with the later layer “by conversion of its movements into the movements of the gnosis [thus turning] its mental perception, ideation, will, pleasure into radiances of the divine knowledge, pulsations of the divine will-force, waves and floods of the divine delight-seas” (Aurobindo 2006, p.486). One can easily see the prophetic scheme that was already present at the 1.4 Rapproaching and the 2.4 Conformist Stages: Within the earlier, as Jean Piaget (1956, p.338) states, there was “doubtless […] an element of magic-phenomenalistic causality or efficacy” added to an infant’s experimentation that is a precursor to later self-awareness as agency with the power over a body and the senses that is descriptive for Secondness, while at the later one man could hear “guiding voices” (Janes 2000, p.187) most probably descending from the mental stages of Thirdness, where we  then, “in a sense, have become our own gods” (ibid. p.79) through using subjective thought as meaningful ideation.

Similarly, Graves (2005) existential-level man has his mind wide open for cognitive roaming. This openness enables “the recognizant way. Its ethic is ‘recognize – truly notice – what life is, and you shall know how to behave’” (ibid. p.381). In the first half of the discoursive stage, we can see this ability exemplarily in the phenomenon of Presence as described by Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski and Betty Sue Flowers (2005, pp.13f) – a practice “leading to a state of ‘letting come’, of consciously participating in a larger field for change”. When this participation happens, so the authors, “the field shifts, and the forces shaping a situation can move from re-creating the past to manifesting or realizing an emerging future” (ibid. p.14). Slightly different we can see the connection to spirit more rationally elaborated in the 1975 work of Niklas Luhmann (2017). For him systems can generate “reflexivity of communication” (Luhmann 2017, p.167). By this process one is “carried out of the totality of the immediate-shared communicating and thus can reproduce it in a different form – as thematization of the system, which is communicating” (ibid. p.167). At this last stage of Thirdness Whitehead respectively speaks of the mechanisms within actual entities or humans that connect the temporal order with the eternal objects and potentials of a timeless dimension, an “ideal realization of potentialities in a primordial actual entity [which] constitutes the metaphysical stability whereby the actual process exemplifies general principles of metaphysics, and attains the ends proper to specific types of emergent order” (Whitehead 1978, p.40).

Differently said, the processes of self-reflexivity as well as the recognizant way of presencing are the necessary condition at the 3.4 Discoursive Stage to maintain the identities of self or systems. Both modes of self-reference are existing at this stage through their connection to an ideal state within another dimension. This sphere is not yet completely perceived but in a degenerate form already immanent to the thought and experience here. Especially within the second half of the stage people come closer to the dimension already mentioned by Jantsch, that even earlier was pointed to by Jean Gebers (1970, p.9) in his Invisible Origin –  the “virtuality, which is less behind the objects, rather with that which invisibly establishes events, without therefore being causally connected”.

Navigating through the Halftime

In the first half of the stage this connection might be strongly guided towards our actions in the world once it has been recognized in the first quarter of the 3.4 Discoursive and the transition from the 3.3 Integrative Stage. Concurrently Thomas Hübl (2009, p.221), in Sharing the Presence, writes: “We are consciously linked with the one intelligence and can draw inspiration from this connection, and then we are no longer guided and lived by an evolution from bottom up, but through a divine force, which manifests through all of us”. The direction of evolution thus is supported by the general movement of differentiation and goal orientation, that appears in each second quarter of a stage. Henceforth the intellectual games Wilber (1996) plays in his Atman Project show the same signs of generating directionality for the life process. However, this general attitude shows up there less intrigued by human`s creative endeavor guided through the divine. But as a reflection of the consequences of terror within a subject which is fearful of finding unity, i.e. “the prior Whole only by letting go of the boundary between subject and object—that is, by dying to the exclusive subject” (Wilber 1996, p.119). Humans thus contract “holding on to himself, his subjectivity, he shuts out Atman; grasping only his own ego, he denies the rest of the All” (ibid. p.119), whereas this unity is meant to be the source for psychological growth in humans: “a microcosmic reflection of universal growth on the whole […] [that] has the same goal: the unfolding of ever higher-order unities and integrations” (ibid. p.13). But, since this attempt to attain pure Fourthness is at this stage still degenerately present not only through fear but even through ascent we “force symbolic substitutes—each successive one being closer to the Source, as it were, but still merely substitutive” (ibid. p.38). In this pessimistic view evolution is a rotten compromise, nurture by our knowledge of god and our attempts of ascension. As much as it is opposed to Hübl`s (2009, p.323) idea of evolution as “a divine that renders homage to innovation and […] pours itself out in the dance of life through all forms within our world”, the longing of our soul nevertheless is expressive of the same connection and resulting within the same outcome – evolution of consciousness as well as form as symbolic substitution of the ultimate.

A less spiritual but more rational source at this subphase of the larger stage is expressive in Luhmann (2017, p. 633), when he says that there is a dual givenness of both system and environment that points out possibilities and as “a permanent fabrication of this ‘co-presence’ within the daily lives, […] enables and enforces effective procedures of selecting meaning”. It is not the divine but “the simultaneous presence of actuality and a horizon that imparts meaning to the given situation, or more functionally expressed: concrete access to and localization within other possibilities” (ibid. p.633). The shared presence here is inherently not different from seeing the divine as the other, the dislodged, the higher degree of possibility from which meaning works as force and direction for evolution as either nurturing source or desired goal.

In the second half, the discoursive person steps out of second quarter goal orientation and the live within the function of differentiation as expressed through self-thematization at this stage. Hegel (1977, p.91), in The Phenomenology of Spirit, therefore can describe after the halftime of this altitude, that “this implicit, simple universal being” that we are “is essentially no less absolutely universal difference, for it is the outcome of the flux itself, or the flux is its essence; but it is a flux that is posited in the inner world as it is in truth, and consequently it is received in that inner world as equally an absolute universal difference that is absolutely at rest and remains selfsame” (ibid. p.91). Whereas Whitehead (1978, p.232) expressed the experience as a felt sense of this differentiated that one becomes within the first half when he laments that “the subjective form originates, and carries into the feeling its own history transformed into the way in which the feeling feels. The way in which the feeling feels expresses how the feeling came into being. It expresses the purpose which urged it forward, and the obstacles which it encountered, and the indeterminations which were dissolved by the originative decisions of the subject” – “negation is an essential moment of the universal, and negation, or mediation in the universal, is therefore a universal difference” (Hegel 1977, p.91). However, this is only half of the story: Additionally, Susanne Cook-Greuter (2013a, p.80) writes that “while polarities as used in polarity dynamics can be understood as pairs of interdependent values at earlier levels, here, a deeper understanding of the discursive conceptualizations and abstractions is sinking in, namely how these are created in the first place”. Therefore, Hegel (1977, p.99) continues that the mental or as he says the supersensible world “has at the same ‚time overarched the other world and has it within it; it is for itself the inverted world, i.e. the inversion of itself; it is itself and its opposite in one unity – just because I have the ‚opposite‘ herein and for itself, it is the opposite of itself, or it has, in fact, the ‚other‘ immediately present to it”. Simply said, the second quarter is no longer simply and inversion and disjunction exclusive within the exercise of differentiation but disjunctive comparative or even a disjunctive recognition of integrated opposites.

Accordingly, in-between the third and fourth quarter of the stage, the divine and human merge within Thomas Hübl`s (2020, p.10f) writing; they become a divine-human matrix. And thus “source energy, life’s seed, the Divine — touches us from the authentic future […] [and] from this conscious, ever-emergent wellspring, we are offered the full accumulated treasure of human life” – not divine life but a “both… and” of bottom up and involutionary driven evolution, that “exists within us as an electricity that rushes upward vertically along every familial thread and arcs out horizontally along the fibers of our nervous systems, connecting each to the other and animating the full current of humanity in vibrating unison” (ibid. p.11). Similarly, to this merging of human and divine within the quoted spiritual text, Luhmann`s system and environment move closer to each other. In his reflections on The Function of Religion “the relationship between a religious system and its societal environment can neither be derived from an idea of the divine nor the world itself” (Luhmann 1982, p.180). Hence both sides are not sufficient, neither system as religion nor environment as society – and respectively neither self as system nor divine as environment are sufficient when separated but have themselves a mutually defining history. And so, ambivalence, grounded within a first comprehension of being both sides at once, of the relationship between two sides of a polarity enables new modes of processing the difference and oneness of both sides: “It needs Interpretation of revelations and interpretations of interpretations towards a functionally aware reflection of interpreting revelations”, so Luhmann (1982, p.180) since as Hegel (1977, p.219) would explain, they are “categories each of which is nothing in and for itself, but only in relation to its opposite, and they cannot therefore be separated from one another”.

Differently said, the divine must rely on the human capacity for self-reflection, or religion on environmental, hence cultural standards of truth. A process that then require the dissolution of “a surplus of forms inherent to each epoch of humanity that even though it has no precise relation to structural problems, and impossibly could be developed under present conditions, is nonetheless reproduced and co-conditions the future direction of evolution” (ibid. p.183). Thomas Hübl (2020, p.XVII) calls these inappropriate historically grown structures and memories trauma that, if unresolved, “delay the development of the human family, harm the natural world, and inhibit the higher evolution of our species”. For Luhmann a religion’s past mechanisms to cope with contingency can be poetically enamored with Hübl (2020, p.11), when he writes that we have to let go of these structures and “if we accept the call, we are likely to encounter the dark. But if we survive the dark, our eyes will have opened, and we will be infinitely and indescribably changed”. This sense for what is no longer necessary but contingent or even unhealthy becomes a simultaneous presentation of different levels, namely that what a wholeness is longing for and what it is rejecting – the transitivity of values as third quarter rather than third stage like necessary and contingent at the 3.3 Integrative Stage.

Too, Wilber (1984) in The Developmental Spectrum and Psychopathology moves into close observation of negation apprehension. Precisely, when he looks at the interplay of healthy and unhealthy versions of our atman project by hypothesizing that “if consciousness develops through a series of stages, then a developmental ‘lesion’ at a particular stage would manifest itself as a particular type of psychopathology, and an understanding of the developmental nature of consciousness – its structures, stages, and dynamics – would prove indispensable to both diagnosis and treatment” (Wilber 1984, p.75). Here he, too, sees stage change as a dance and interplay where “both preservation and negation (or life and death) apparently have important phase-specific tasks to accomplish” (ibid. p.85). Development now becomes for him a process, where “the lower self-stage is (barring fixation) released and negated, but the lower basic structure remains in existence as a necessary rung in the ladder of consciousness and must therefore be integrated in the overall newly configured individual. Once on the new and higher level, the self then seeks to consolidate, fortify, and preserve that level, until it is once again strong enough to die to that level, transcend that level (release or negate it), and so ascend to the next developmental rung” (ibid. p.85). This simultaneous presentation differs for the concise observer from the description of stage change in The Atman Project. In the earlier work “transformation upward […] involves the emergence (via remembrance) of a higher-order deep structure, followed by the shifting of identity to that higher-order structure, and the differentiation or disidentification with the lower structures” (Wilber 1996, p.63), which contrasts the dynamism within the opposition of the later Wilber by being a linear movement, where each step sings the song of differentiation towards the new stage, “amounts to a transcendence of the lower-order structures, which thus enables consciousness to operate on and integrate all of the lower-order structures” (ibid. p.63) – too, in differentiation subordinate, them without seeing the remainder of it as necessary in combination with the upheaval. The “either… or” sensation in Wilber`s (1996, p.) textuality – where if “agape exceeds contraction, the transformation is upward: The Atman project moves closer and closer to Atman itself – that is evolution. But if contraction exceeds Agape, then the transformation is downward: The Atman project moves further and further away from Atman” – becomes the recognition that both sides need to be navigated in their unity.

Beginning with Dissolution into Unity

At this point, when new modes of reflexivity are integrated into one`s sense of identity and the relationship to spirit as something transcendent becomes more intense, the Construct-Aware paradox “of being a separate individual locus of consciousness while also feeling interconnected and part of a deeper, non-individualized, all-pervasive consciousness”, which Susanne Cook-Greuter (2010, p.59) mentions in her Dissertation, might start to vibrate in a new intensity. On the one hand like Georg Simmel (1907, p.65), one of the grand German thinkers of early 20th century, writes at the end of this stage “the process of dissolution into higher principles, the attempt to again derive the hitherto final from something else, will never ever come to an end” and hence there is no universal to be found at this stage, irrespective of the deep presence of a longing for it and projection of a unity between it and any particularity and individuality. At the same time Luhmann (1991, p.244) writes in an essay on the Temporalization of Complexity unison with Simmel that “a further differentiation of events […] never ends with a new, perhaps timeless dimension of elements”. However, though there is no universal to be found “one has to confess to the mystics, that the infinity of progress into the small matches the infinity of the progress into the large and one insofar can find eternity in each moment” (ibid. p.244).

Differently said: Hegel (1977, p. 408) in his Phenomenology of Spirit describes within the final phases of the stage a first recognition of ascend into the absolute, for example in a moment of forgiveness, where “the word of reconciliation is the objectively existent Spirit, as comitative with antinomy which beholds the pure knowledge of itself qua universal essence, in its opposite, in the pure knowledge of itself qua absolutely self-contained and exclusive individuality as synthesis a reciprocal recognition which is absolute Spirit”. With an estrangement of de Chardin`s (1964, p.298) wording a person here is in consequence even less than in the earlier stage “disposed to reject as unscientific the idea that the critical point of planetary Reflection, the fruit of socialization, is far from being a mere spark in the darkness, represents our passage, by translation or dematerialization, to another sphere of the Universe: not an ending of the Ultra-Human but its accession to some sort of Trans-Human at the ultimate heart of things”. Even the declared atheist Jean Paul Stare (2004, p. 391 & p.294), in his fourth quarter writing The Critique of Dialectical Reason embraces “some ‚collective consciousness‘, a totality irreducible to its parts, [which] imposes itself externally on each and every consciousness, as the Kantian categories impose themselves on the multiplicity of sensations. […] [A] collective consciousness arising from the synthetic unification” of a series of the four homeostatic functions, where the collective praxis leads to individuals realizing “in and through themselves the interpenetration of a multiplicity of unorganized individuals within them and that they produce every individual in them in the indistinction of a totality” (ibid. p. 253) on the basis of the two earlier forms: individuation or isolation and reciprocity.

Still this does not mean for Sartre (2004, p.492) “that a particular, collective illumination inhabits the group, a consciousness of collective consciousness” but it generally holds true, that only by having experienced and outside of this he could have become conscious of this collective inwardness as an object. Wilber (2018, p.338) writes, that Integral Turquoise “stands on the edge of the realization that its own future growth and development involves reaching in areas beyond its particular self-sense, which can infuse […] [it] with a mild but insistent insecurity, as this death including future seeps into its consciousness” – and this includes reaching in areas beyond any of the self-referential systems the person has constructed here. When one steps out of one`s autopoiesis, as one can call this mental process with Humberto Maturana`s (1972) terminology given to us through his early discoursive writing The Realization of the Living, the existentialist person might realize that being “terribly concerned about the fact that life must continue to exist hereafter, in terms of what is best for the survival of life – my life, their life and all life” generated deep illusions about immortality again, as it might had happened already at the 2.4 Conformist Stage. Autopoiesis as a mechanism that “implies the subordination of all change in the autopoietic system to the maintenance of its autopoietic organization, and since this organization defines it as a unity, it implies total subordination of the phenomenology of the system to the maintenance of its unity” (Maturana 1972, p.97), and it, at this stage, so Cook-Greuter (2013b, p.) is preoccupied besides other topics with “the consciously insolvable problem of existence and non-existence, life and death”. Whitehead (1978, p.45) therefore speaks of each human exercising a “function of objective immortality”. Our actions and constructs, so to say, “become a ‚being‘; and it belongs to the nature of every ‚being‘ that it is a potential for every ‚becoming’” (ibid. p.45) and thus we life on in others – sometimes even more real than before, so Sartre, when he says “so long as we are not dead, we are not this in-itself in the mode of identity” (1984, p.116). Wilber (1991) in Grace and Grit, a book rooted within the first quarter of the 4.1 Consensus-Aware Stage, can be read as a guideline for this death. He documents that his idea of enlightenment changed completely into an idea of enlightened understanding presence, that he unmistakable saw in his dying beloved, “when she met suffering and death with a pure and simple presence, a presence that outshone her pain, a presence that clearly announced what she was” (Wilber 1991, p.406) – and that finally made her “dissolved into All Space, mixing with the entire universe, […] just like in her meditations” (ibid. p.407).

Trapped in Decision and Paradox

However short lived these experiences of transcending the last self-ruminations of mind might be, “access to intuition, bodily states, feelings, dreams, archetypal and other transpersonal material that increases at this stage” (Cook-Greuter 2013a, p.81) can be deeply disturbing besides its blissfulness. However, when suddenly consciousness embraces time as well as space and mind from its timeless, universal and eternal stance “we would see, sense, and feel that our own life force is the same one that shines through all, the same one that ignites and moves all things”, too, as Venita Ramirez (2015, p.50) still subjunctively versifies in the exiting phase of the discoursive body, life, and mind. The first earth shaking intensity within this all-apprehension of error in creating boundaries through mental interpretation seemingly holds true even for those though Adi Da Samraj`s (2009, p.207) conception of a Sixth Stage person, that can serve as a vague illustration for the process here, is not necessarily driven by accidents into the transpersonal but “strategically oriented to the Self-Nature, Self-Condition, and Self-State that is prior to conditional existence”. The person at the turquoise altitude thus is on the one hand as Adi Da suggests within a “causal-based effort to dissociate from conditional existence” while one at the same time might stay with the subjunctive case of its complete attainment or might even defend against the new sense of identity at the consensus-aware stage. Habermas (1991, p.153), in resistance, writes in recognition of a transcendent observer in his Remarks on Discourse Ethics: “Anybody who wants to contemplate something with a moral point of view, is not allowed to spiral out of the intersubjective coherence constituted by all participants of a communication”. Hence, the deep commitment to one`s moral principles that have arisen at this stage might keep one engaged in the processes of self-thematization and enchanted by what we already somewhat have and later will recognize as illusions. We see the same behavior in Evelyn Underhill’s (1953, p.13) The Inner Life, where the humbleness against “the slowly growing and concrete realization of a Life and a Spirit within us immeasurably exceeding our own, and absorbing, transmuting, supernaturalizing our lives by all ways and at all times”, becomes a hindrance – God might vanish when we rise up to his heights – and keeps us engaged into the projection of meanings to actualize that. In turn, in the fourth quarter existence might even stop looking like our self-thematization – the sense of freedom might perish in the recognition of “vagabond and authorless free actions”, so Sartre (2004, p.76) which we must see “arise and dissolve themselves in the unity of a dialectical process” – or as Hegel (1977, p.264) says “spirit, being the substance and the universal, self-identical, and abiding essence, is the unmoved solid ground and starting-point for the action of all, and it is their purpose and goal, the in-itself of every self-consciousness expressed in thought”. But as much as the hunger for spiritual food “that love of god and that peace and presence of eternity” (Underhill 1953, p.14) is thus bound to a paradox similar to the intelligible comprehension of the larger process that guides us but in hindsight asks for our choice can make life exhaustive. The permanent process of self-constitution within a larger unity, a narrative of decision and totalization for a certain mode of self-constitution, so Luhmann (1981, p.378) at the end of the stage, is the “source of permanent self-overextension”.

This is due to Fourthness and thus self-thematization at this stage still being degenerate to real unity, which means the stage has only three layers – that of body, life, and mind – with a fourth missing. There is neither a complete oneness with spirit but spirit owning them and being larger than they are nor a clear sense of identity that can hold polarities easily together in the moment but only reflexively or through the help of the descending divine. As much as the need to grow beyond the 3.3 Integrative Stage`s “both… and…” brought forth paradox, paradox is falling short of its promised salvation. Evelyn Underhill (1911) beautifully illustrates the problem in her first Quarter 3.4 Discoursive writing on Mysticism. The paradox of transcendence and immanence, where one side, “the Divine spirit which […] [the mystics] know to be immanent in the heart and in the universe comes forth from and returns” (Underhill 1911, p.44) to the other side: “to the Transcendent One; and this division of persons in unity of substance completes the ‘Eternal Circle, from Goodness, through Goodness, to Goodness’” (ibid. p.44). However, though aware of both sides and their paradoxical correlation “the first awakening of the mystic sense, the first breaking in of the suprasensible upon the soul, commonly involves the emergence of one only of these complementary forms of perception” (ibid. p.181).

And it is not only in this case that “one side always wakes first” (Underhill 1911, p.181). As long as our spiritual natures does not see “everything from the standpoint of oneness and regards all things, even the greatest multiplicity and diversity, even what are to the mind the strongest contradictions, in the light of that oneness” (Aurobindo 2005, p.1000) within the Layer of Spirit and Absolute Truth we are bound to choose one side within our self-reference, even if we already cognitively grasp their mutual dependence and enactment. Because we life instead of within a later perception of a unity of the difference between systems and environments, human and divine, transcendent and immanent, micro and macro, body and mind as well as the negative and positive, the healthy and pathological, or the good and bad will always prefer one side as more dominant or self. It is a contrast, that too, as drawn in Otto Scharmer`s and Katrin Kaufer`s (2013) most recent development of Presencing brings forth some sort of absencing: The moment “whenever we respond to the inner space of emptiness by downloading the old rather than by leaning into the new, we are embarking on a co-enactment of social [or individual] pathology” (Scharmer & Kaufer 2013, p.32). As much as the difference of presencing and absencing falls into the same dilemma of misrepresenting or underestimating their oneness they are right that the journey at this stage ultimately always includes “denying, de-sensing, absencing, deluding, destroying, and eventually self-destroying” (ibid. p.32), since the transcendental functions of homeostasis are not yet completely enacted and embodied into a living consciousness of body, life, mind, and spirit as the simple ananda of the nothingness or absolute secret that is the divine they sprang from. The Christian mystic Bernadette Roberts (2015, p.4) labels the necessary recognition within her first half of the 4.1 Consensus-Aware Stage, explicitly that “the line that divides is also the line that unites. […] [It] represent a union of opposites – Uncreated and created, Infinite and finite, mutable and Immutable”. Luhmann (2012, p.190) at this later unitive stage similarly, yet more mundanely, recognizes that as an observer “one can only choose oneself as unity and as unity between the difference of a system and environment”, and of course a multitude of other seeming oppositions.

Releasing the Autopoietic Mind

The grand relieve that comes with the dissolution of paradox as our mode of operating is again expressed by Evelin Underhill. In the conclusions to her later book The Golden Sequence she writes, in the transition out of the discoursive stage, that there now is no longer any “test, no conflict, no attraction or delight, nor any vicissitude of circumstance which does not come to us charged with Spirit; no point in the chain of succession where the Eternal cannot be found, served and adored” (Underhill 1933, p.192). One is in a permanent double status, she continues, where “we are changeful, yet children of the unchanging; free and yet dependent; carnal, sold under sin, and yet perpetually drawn to love and depend on god” (ibid. p.192), and this demand exactly is the “tension and the richness of our mysterious life” (ibid. p.192). As much as the integrative function, and thus Thirdness, is based on and works by means of possession through a subject-ego-soul Underhill here states “the deletion of the possessive case” (ibid. p.192) – the end of our permanent endeavor to create a difference between actuality and potentiality for the sake of meaning, freedom and identity.

Adi Da Samraj (2000, pp.125f) in The Seven Stages of Life writes concomitantly that “it is only when the tension associated with the self-contraction effort of exclusion relaxes into simple divine self-recognition of phenomenal states that there is full awakening to the divinely enlightened condition”. Just slightly different, and as a reminder of Wilber`s passage in Grace and Grit, Terri O`Fallon (2010, p.65) writes in The Evolution of the Human Soul: It is “the causal silence [that] underlies the fabric of Unitives’ very life, […] [with]a general experience of wonder and gratitude for life with a sense of universal connectedness and yet a sense of ordinariness; this is the bringing of what was once a causal state into the ordinariness of one’s life such that it is no longer a state, but is life itself”. Whereas those two earlier authors simply write about the experience, Sri Aurobindo describes this transition within one of his letters to a friend in 1910 by saying, “when the full knowledge dawns, I embrace all experiences in myself, I know all ideas to be true, all opinions useful, all experiences and attitudes means and stages in the acquisition of universal experience and completeness, all gurus imperfect channels or incarnations of the one and only Teacher, all ishtas and Avatars to be God Himself” (Aurobindo 2003, p.552).

Slightly before this shift when the increasing number of episodes drenches our mind with illuminations of our death as embodied, living mind, one can start to recognize the illusion of all differences, that are including something exterior to one`s preferred side of a paradox – but see that both sides are self-sprung from one`s awareness. Hence, Jacques Derrida (1981, p.297) gossips in his Dissemination that one can see in reality “the direction of a transcendental illusion at play within the very law that constitutes the object, that presents the thing as an object, as that which stands opposite me, facing me”. For this French deconstructivistic thinker “the face as what one faces, a surface of envisaged Presence […], contemplates itself as the originary, immediate, unconditioned opening of appearing, but it explains itself as an apparent opening, a conditioned product, a surface effect” (ibid. p.299). The higher mind thus becomes a ceaselessly self-regenerating “constantly active, distorting apparatus” (ibid. p.299). That, when we complete Derrida`s though through Hegel (2011, §§553-555) slowly matures into “the absolute spirit as reality that is equally eternal in itself as it is returning and returned Identity; the one and general substance as spiritual […] as the certitude of the objective truth” – where there is no longer any difference between illusion and truth or subjective and objective.

Poetry of Final Liberation

Likewise Susanne Cook-Greuter (2013b, p.243) writes within the transition to the first quarter 4.1 Consensus-Aware perspective in Assumptions versus Assertions – a critique of -isms in integral philosophy – including a deep sense for recognition of illusions: “Let’s be vigilant about not confusing the map with the territory, or our favored interpretations with the seamless underlying and felt sense of experiencing life as it unfolds. We better be skeptical when someone asserts a specific view of reality as the discovery of all discoveries rather than as a useful hypothesis, a tentative new map, and a basis from which to continue to explore the mystery of being”. It is Clare Graves (2005) who might well define this transition from the unconditional certainty of truth within one`s self-thematization. He, once more, tells us slightly different, drawing on poetry, what it means to life from the HU Experiential or Intuitive Existence in his posthumous published book The Neverending Quest: “Sacrifice the idea that one will ever know what it is all about and adjust to this as the existential reality of existence” (Graves 2005, p.395): The “winds of knowledge and human, not Godly, faith and the surging waves of confidence” (ibid. p.391), acquired at the GT Existential, cognitive, existential problematic stage, make man prone towards letting go into “the delight of tasting more of his emergent Self” (ibid. p.393) – then, when man finally leaves the Layer of Mind and Meaningful Ideas, he “values escaping ‘from the barbed wire entanglement of his own ideas and his own mechanical devices’. He values the ‘marvelous rich world of context and sheer fluid beauty and [fearless] face-to-face awareness of now-naked-life’”, so Graves (2005 p.398) in quoting D. H. Lawrence (1920) poem Terra Incognita, while Aurobindo (2005, p.978) as a silent echo concludes that Higher Mind is there to make “a first change, a modification that will capacitate a higher ascent and a more powerful descent and further prepare an integration of the being in a greater Force of consciousness and knowledge” – it, too unlocks the door to the other side of Thirdness.


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