Above all, avoid falsehood, every kind of falsehood, especially falseness to yourself. Watch over your own deceitfulness and look into it every hour, every minute. Avoid being scornful, both to others and to yourself. What seems to you bad within you will grow purer from the very fact of your observing it in yourself. Avoid fear, too, though fear is only the consequence of every sort of falsehood. Never be frightened at your own faint-heartedness in attaining love. Don't be frightened overmuch even at your evil actions. I am sorry I can say nothing more consoling to you, for love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all. Men will even give their lives if only the ordeal does not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as though on the stage. But active love is labour and fortitude, and for some people too, perhaps, a complete science. But I predict that just when you see with horror that in spite of all your efforts you are getting farther from your goal instead of nearer to it—at that very moment I predict that you will reach it and behold clearly the miraculous power of the Lord who has been all the time loving and mysteriously guiding you.
--Zossima, (Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov)
I've come into the field of integral theory and practice, a groundbreaking holistic paradigm offered by such theorists as Ken Wilber and Vasily Nalimov, following my intuition of excellence. I was (and still am) an ambitious young man, white-skinned Russian, with some experience of living in the USA and some fluency in English. At first I was interested in neuropsychology, then clinical psychology, and then my flirtations with reality led me into transpersonal psychology and finally integral psychology. It was not a linear process, rather a complex, dynamic, non-linear sequence of events, choices, and pure mistakes that involved participating in business endeavors, projects, and dramatic relationships, spiritual rollercoaster rides, alternative states of consciousness, and immersion into the realms of the Internet.
The main driving force for me has been my intuition: I tracked down élan vital and devoured everything that would fuel my existential search. It was nothing sentimental, but rather strictly business of devouring meanings that fulfill me with thrill of existence. It was the intuition of creativity, self-integration and self-transcendence (all of which are essential for excellence) that led me from what some would call a poor neighborhood and stressful family conditions (that surrounded me during my elementary, middle and high school years) into getting a university degree in clinical psychology and consequently becoming a transpersonal integralist (a practitioner of integrating and enacting multiple methods of living while emphasizing being grounded in postpersonal, spiritual, and universal dimensions) who is experienced in communicating with people from all walks of life and is learning to love himself, his girlfriend, his family, his friends, and everyone he meets. Fiercely.
When I was an adolescent I wasn't able to stand mediocrity in the ways that fractured, fragmented, pathology-enriched conventional society of post-Soviet Russia offered me. I still can't stand it, and rightly so. The intensity of the body of life that I experienced in the past few years has been overwhelming me, my self-system, my meaning-making apparatus. Encounters with shadows of the past, perhaps even ghosts of past generations, as well as spirits of the potential future have been haunting me. Apatheia and melancholia are frequent visitors in the house of my soul; and sometimes I am put off by my own fragmentation and weirdness. I mirror my society in many ways, but fuck you very much, so do you.
I am really angry. In fact, I wanted to start this writing with the words "I'm tired of this shit." In the post-metaphysical journey of life, where I stop assuming things as "metaphysical givens" and become investigative by using my own lifebody as a tool for playful research and exploration grounded in radical subjectivity and enriched by integral flow of information, I learn to encounter everything with wonder and amazement. As my vision moves into seeing how the Kosmos echoes in seemingly very finite things, as my Heart awakens to deeper truths of the ever-present Now, the only thing that the mind is able to utter is often: "Holy shit! What the fuck are we doing?"
From the beginning of this text you might have thought that it was a kind of autobiographical "success story," but it is not: this is a story of a complete failure. The complete failure of ideas of Integral evolution in the hands, mouths, and heads of those who, as a colleague of mine skillfully formulated, write faster than they think and feel, who occupied the public discourse around evolutionary issues, established themselves in mediocrity, and keep repeating the same old semiotic patterns without a single burning flame of existential passion and novelty and with no pragmatic consequence. Myself included: I am guilty as charged in my fear of failure of pronouncing things powerfully in my own voice and manifesting the radically embodied transpersonal force, the very fear that leads to failure before anything is done. I am sick; and I see my sickness, at least this part of it. Do you see yours? Do you know what your sickness is about? Do you often get nauseated?
In 2010 in an attempt to reach out to an international community of practitioners of integral and transpersonal approaches I started my experiment of intensive communication in Facebook and other social networks. Saying "I started" lacks the richness of what actually happened because I was somehow sucked into this endeavor by a creative urge which asked no excuses and acted with a totalitarianism of a Hitler in my heart. The inner dictator simply left me no choice but to surrender to this experiment.
I began with a simple practice of taking every bit of communication in Facebook seriously, an attempt for a conscious networking and in-depth exploration of communicative potentials offered by the contemporary social networking media. I think many of my Facebook friends would recognize that, in this experiment, I literally worked my ass off and put as much existential intensity as I could (as well as enormous amounts of time and energy) in order to bring meaningfulness to dialogues and uncover and communicate greater depths, meanings, states and stages of consciousness.
There are few things that enriched me in terms of information and life meanings in a greater and deeper way than this ongoing Facebook yoga. Those who say that new media of communication such as Facebook are shallow simply don't know how to cook them and are sometimes lazy and ignorant people who don't see beyond their nose and are too satisfied with their average life. Oh boy, wake up and grow up guys, there is an entire generation of human beings who probably spend more time communicating in Facebook than in real life. The problem isn't the technology, the problem is in how to integrate it with fuller and richer ways of life that engage all essential dimensions (such as body, mind, soul, spirit in first, second, and third person).
The other component of this practice was surfing the waves of inspiration and existential intensity. Existential intensity, existential intensity, I mention this term over and over again, what is it about? It is thanks to streaming Facebook conversations with such friends as Albert Klamt and Greg Thomas that I learned deeply how to frame this very basic intuition: the intuition of life's intensity, of being completely and fully and non-dualistically involved with the matters of life and death, of opening my heart to the world's pains and joys and devoting myself to what's arising moment to moment completely, right in the moment, right now, with real consequence.
Fyodor Dostoevsky is the name of that still unsurpassed genius who pioneered the walks of radical subjectivity and existential intensity and wrote the sermons of human drama with that big heart of his. As I was reading and re-reading his books in the past three years, I literally felt how a better, more mature, and infinitely more sensitive inner being arises in me, the being that is connected with the sufferings of the entire human race, its quests for the Holy Grail of existential meanings, spiritual abundance and transfiguration.
The existential intensity leads to the existential necessity for my individual efforts (and our collaborative efforts) to have an integral punching power that goes beyond mediocrity and breaks into novelty, creativity, and new habits of consciousness, brain, culture, and society. We have got to punch right in the stomach in order to generate a heartbeat and jab right in the head in order to open the blindfolded eyes. We have got to leave new tracks of meaning-making and patterns of coming to terms with kosmic karma and creativity upon which the further iterations of being-consciousness will traverse. We have to come to terms with our sexuality, mortality, morality, immortality, immorality, the necessity of producing pragmatic results in the real political world and of furthering the limits of human potential in ways that transcend merely local ambitions and enterprises.
And here is one specifically for my North American colleagues (but also useful to everyone else): Go and live outside of your home country for a few months or even years. Learn a foreign language. Learn the diversity and abundance of life and its mysterious ways. It is the time for all of us to disconnect from the matrix of fast-food meanings that were fed to us by poorly designed social systems. What kind of integral leadership can you speak of if you don't know the world outside of your habitat and the world inside of your mind?
Both Paintings by Sascha Schneider (1870-1927)