The Integral Heart and Our Evolutionary Future

by Terry Patten -

The "Integral Heart" embodies a disposition that pays attention to the core of all things—the center that also connects with—and integrates—all dimensions of reality. 

The word "heart" comes from an Anglo-Saxon root-word connoting the "very center" or "core." 

The ancient lore of yoga posited three hearts — the beating physical heart on the left, the subtle feeling heart chakra in the middle, and the conscious causal heart on the right.

The core of things can be found quite practically right here in the physical plane; it can be found through the opening of the heart in transpersonal love; and it can be found by realizing the radical consciousness at the root of existence. 

The Integral Heart explicitly emphasizes the connection of consciousness, care and embodiment. It stands in the inseparability of the intelligence of the Integral impulse with the unified, awakened feeling awareness associated with the heart and the body.

It opens up a conversation: How do we actually live the Integral Heart? —especially in this time and place.

Living the Integral Heart

We live in "interesting times." We face multiple challenges so large they transcend human history, challenges that can only be understood on an evolutionary scale. 

Such conditions require profound, inclusive, caring intelligence and commitment, not mere calculation. 

That’s what is signified by the words "Integral Heart." 

Our political, social and economic institutions seem helpless, bound by a spaghetti-tangle of tunnel-vision karmas and Catch-22 dynamics. 

We Are Each Called

Only mighty, multidimensional, whole-being intelligence, anchored in the heart, has a hope to meet the challenges of our time.

We are each called by our evolutionary emergency—by problems that cannot be solved at the level through which they were created. 

We are called to wake up, to heal ourselves, to serve others, to cooperate and to evolve human culture and society. 

We must transcend and include all that has come before us, and embody our highest heart-intelligence in our personal commitments, our intimate relationships, our careers and our contributions to the world.

It's a big task. It's a humbling, sometimes painful task and it's a joyful one. But it doesn't help to get hyped up over it, or grandiose. If we are going to survive and evolve, it will only be with our feet planted firmly on the ground. 

This means we must engage in a deep, authentic process of growth and transformation. It means we must respectfully help each other evolve. 

We must further the great adventure of human consciousness, which, with all its twists and turns, peaks and pitfalls, is the process of history itself.

A New Enlightenment

Escola de Atenas (crop) - by RaphaelIn the 17th and 18th centuries, an "enlightenment" swept over the Western world—a new level of consciousness that sought to liberate individuals and institutions from the tyranny of tradition, guided by the light of reason. 

The enlightenment brought us democracy, human rights and such notions as equality and "justice for all." But of course, it was an incomplete enlightenment. 

It left a lot of people out. It glorified rationality at the expense of other legitimate forms of consciousness. Thus, in many postmodern circles, the whole notion of any kind of “enlightenment” was discredited. But nothing was offered to take its place.

In fact, we now need an even higher level of enlightenment. A greater, more inclusive, trans-rational enlightenment. An enlightenment of both the Mind and Heart (not to mention the Body, Soul, and Spirit!).

Just as the old enlightenment was inspired by the ideas and philosophies of the great thinkers of the time, our own enlightenment must also have its own grand ideas and maps.

This is important, because if we’re going to engage the process of waking up—and helping each other and many others, to wake up (imagine a viral or grassroots enlightenment movement)—we must make use of the best distinctions, vocabulary, and maps of reality we have available. 

We must understand, transcend, and integrate our global inheritance of human wisdom and know-how—ancient, traditional, modern, and post-modern. We must be changed in our very way of being

We must comprehend and thus masterfully participate in a nuanced, flex-flowing, multi-dimensional world. We need Integral maps, Integral consciousness and an Integral Heart. That Heart has no way into the world except through us.

Realizing the Integral Heart

Ultimately, this site is part of a larger conversation between people who are concerned with the big issues and questions that we face not just as individuals but a species and as a nascent global society. 

How can we bring greater love and spirit into the world? 

How can we peacefully coexist coming from different cultural contexts, different religions (or non-spiritual backgrounds), different histories, different politics, different ecological sensibilities and even different levels of consciousness? 

What's next for the inhabitants of this strange little planet in a boundless sea of stars and emptiness in all directions? Contributing to our evolutionary future is a great matter. It inspires me (and many). We often fall short of what's needed. I fall short. Yet we must keep trying.

More Background on The Integral Heart
  • Integral Agency-in-Communion - A short essay on the importance of balancing the "agentic" (masculine, individualist) orientation of many expressions of Integral consciousness, with a balanced and corresponding "communal" orientation (feminine, collectivist).
  • The AQAL Integral Map and Other Sources of The Integral Heart - A summary of the theoretical context of The Integral Heart, including a link to a 40-page PDF by Ken Wilber introducing the AQAL ("All Quadrants, All Levels" model of consciousness, the Kosmos, and human development.
  • Integral Life Practice - General introduction plus link to a preview of the first two chapters of the book by Ken Wilber, Terry Patten, Adam Leonard, and Marco Morelli.

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