AQAL … and colours … and colours

Posted: January 6, 2014 in Integral Studies

Ya, there is no error in the post title.  This is a pretty technical post, aimed at those who understand or who would like to understand Integral Theory.

In Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory of hierarchical stages, he often uses colours to help simplify and identify the different levels.  So I thought that it would be ironic to examine the colours of the spectrum, using the colours of Integral Theory.

One of the basics in Optics is to understand the colours that emerge from a prism.  They are, of course, red, orange yellow, green, blue and indigo, give or take a few shades.  So, how would each cognitive level deal with understanding these colours?

Red : This is the ego-centric, impulsive, pre-rational state.  This level would give little thought to either remembering or understanding colours, figuring that they’re needed you can look on a chart.  The assumption would be that the arrangement of the colours are just somebody’s way of doing it and that there is not really any “reason” for having it that way.  Certainly there would be no thought given to any rational interaction of the colours, such as “green is a combination of blue and yellow, so that’s why it’s where it is”.

Blue/Amber (seems to depend on recency of the chart) : This is the colours exist in the given order because that is the rule, and you can memorize the rule.  The rule may be a scientific rule, or a rule created by God, but little is understood about the intricacies of the rule, in either case.  It is the beginning of conventional or rational thought, but it doesn’t progress very far.

Orange : This is the predominantly rational stage, where the rule about colours is seen in a more scientific context.  The fact that orange is a mixture of red and yellow, green is a mixture of blue and yellow, becomes understood and provides a context for the order of the colours.  The spectrum colours are seen as a continuity of wave lengths and their relationship with the optic nerve.  At the higher levels of Orange, one begins to understand that that continuity extends beyond the visible spectrum.

Green :  This is the level/stage of Pluralism and relative thought where rational ideas can be viewed from expanded perspectives.  It is fully understood that the continuity of wavelengths extends into areas that are not perceived by our eyes, but may be by the eyes of other animals.  The colours we see are but a slice of the pie of reality, created by the behaviour of light and dependent on the faculties of the receiver.  Blue is still blue and red is still red, having a specific wave length value, but may also appear differently, depending on circumstances.

Teal : This is the beginning of the Integral and more Trans-rational levels.  This level tries to see the colours in the context of the whole previously described process.  The person at the Teal level would respect and acknowledge each one of the above perspectives as being appropriate to a particular conceptual level, and necessary to the overall evolution of understanding.  While those levels farther along the evolutionary path are preferred and more inclusive views, each serves a purpose.  A child, first learning about colours accepts them at the Red or Blue level until they develop the reasoning ability to upgrade their understanding.  There’s nothing wrong with that.    Beyond that, in the trans-rational realm, this may also lead to a conceptual understanding that colour is an illusion of perception and that it does not exist independent of perception.  “If nobody is looking at the red car, is it really red?”

This way of looking at things can be applied to all things, whether they be psychological, scientific, political or even spiritual.  Once you realize that (which is a quality of Teal) then it becomes much easier to understand the causes of the misunderstanding so prevalent in our society.


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