States and Stages

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m keen on developmental theory.  And I’m particularly interested in the implications of the Wilber-Combs Lattice.  I don’t want to distract you with the esoteric, but I do think the picture is worth including.

States and Stages

The most important contribution of the Wilber-Combs Lattice is the distinction between states and stages.  Stages (vertical axis) are developmental – they are sequential, you can’t skip through them and they progressively transcend and include each other.  States (horizontal axis) on the other hand, are available to all stages.

What does this all mean?  It means that you don’t have to be some sort of advanced spiritual master to experience a state of nondual consciousness.  If you have had anything to do with the psychedelic revolution you know this to be true – although I am by no means saying that drugs are the only way to experience some of these states!

So what does any of this have to do with my work here at the Interaction Institute for Social Change?  A lot!  Many of us have experienced the way groups enter into a shared state – often negative and intransigent and other times quite positive, generative and “in flow.”

An individual might get into the practice of entering a certain state, maybe intentionally seeking to practice being calm, mindful, open.  They might practice this so often and so well that they developmentally evolve into a stage that is characterized by those attributes.  Once that stage is attained, it is stabilized – the individual becomes someone who is calm, mindful, open more of the time.

I think the same holds true for groups.  My intention when facilitating is to help groups attain certain positive states together – generative and creative states, states of connection, states that lead to positive action in the world.  It is my hope that by practicing the shared attainment of such states groups might eventually leap into the next evolutionary stage and become generative, creative, connected and capable of positive action more of the time instead of less of the time.

I’ll let you know how it’s going!

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