Archive for the ‘Criticality’ Category

Education is a mess – is there an integrative way to teach?

I have updated an introduction to the SunWALK model of human-centred studies; 

SunWALK: Summary of the main meanings of the components represented in 
the model and its ‘logo-diagram-mandala’ – providing a teacher’s process model 




SunWALK: Summary of the main meanings of the components represented in 

the model and its ‘logo-diagram-mandala’ – providing a teacher’s process model

Give me a brief introduction:

SunWALK grew out of reflection on many years of teaching children and adults and particularly a period of five years teaching in a RC middle school – theorizing my practice via a PhD and practising my theory day-to-day.

SunWALK simply says that the quality of all of our lives will be higher if we undertake all education within the framework of deepening our humanity.  

Deepening our humanity is a matter of developing technical competencies within the chief dimensions of the human spirit; Caring (the Humanities), Creativity (the Arts) and Criticality (the Sciences & Philosophy) – all in local, national and world Communities.  These are the ‘4Cs’ of the model – 3 intra-personal, 1 inter-personal.

We and our one planet will be better of if all of the technical stuff, from learning to read to Masters degrees in engineering, take place in the context of humanization/the 4Cs.  This requires international, national, school & classroom commitment to deepening the best of being human as the context for learning the technical.

We can’t afford to have character and morality and compassion as hoped-for accidental outcomes.  Moral Education, PSME, RE etc. don’t work as bolt-on extras.  They need to be the general context in which competencies are developed.

It is a model based on the energy flow of the human spirit – that is the given. That is physical, mental and spiritual energy that flows through all living human beings.  

That energy, the human spirit, is the true ’stuff of education’.  With the best of the past teachers need to equip children to face tomorrow’s challenges which will always be a mixture of new problems combined with eternally recurrent problems.  Building all education with will be the medium with which the teacher works to nurture and challenge balanced development.

Today we have lost the balance between specialization, and whole-systems thinking and acting – SunWALK model brings into harmony the best of ‘Western’ & ‘Eastern’ world-views. 

OK – so what’s the ‘Sun’ and the ‘WALK in the model’?

The ‘Sun’ = the individual’s spiritual inspiration & values sources – accumulated and ongoing, as operating internally and as expressed in speech and behaviour. 

WALK = Willing & Wise Action through Loving & Knowing – here seen as the general goal for education, and as the interiority, character and behaviour of the student. 

The model/logo combines a range of sub-models including the following:

a) An ‘interior’ model of the human spirit – in relation to ‘the world’.

b) A model for re-positioning education within being & becoming human – in the world with others.

c) A general model of the curriculum – for primary, secondary and higher education.

d) A framework for the analysis and evaluation of teaching episodes or projects.

e) A model of education that makes non-faith-specific spiritual and moral education intrinsic to all learning.



The SunWALK model of spiritualizing pedagogy sees human education as the 


development of 

meaning, which is 

constructed, and de-constructed, 

physically, mentally and spiritually, through 

Wise & Willing

Action, via 

Loving and Knowing – developed in 

Community, through the

‘Dialectical Spiritualization [1]’of 

Caring, Creativity & Criticality processes, all undertaken in the light of the 

‘Sun’ of chosen higher-order

values and beliefs, using best available,appropriate 


These underlined concerns are central components and focuses of the practice and theory in the model. 

This is an intense combination of theory and practice.  It automatically requires the teacher to practice their theory and theorise their practice – dynamically as practice-based research.  It automatically enables the classroom to be connected to the school & community as a whole and to e.g. a relevant department in a university.

It attempts to suffuse all teaching with the demands, challenges and joy of being human in the world with others.  But it seeks to bring together the Whole and the parts, the ineffable and the concepts – not just concepts because as Heschel (1971:7) says, “Concepts are delicious snacks with which we try to alleviate our amazement.”

The diagram/logo/

The outer ring of the SunWALK logo combines two dimensions:

1 ‘Community i.e. the social,interpersonal dimension of interaction with other individuals or groups.

2  ‘Cultural sources’ including such dimensions as the traditions, the political & the legal.  

The three major divisions of the arts,sciences and humanities are here thought of as the stored, yet potentially dynamic, accumulation of knowledge and beliefs and procedures – everything from galleries to written laws of physics that the individual can draw upon or be influenced by. This is the ‘stuff out there’ rather than the interiority of consciousness in which there is the perpetual flow and re-shaping, focusing de-focusing etc. of heart-mind.

In SunWALK everything within the inner circle = a representation of ‘interiority’, i.e. human consciousness – the human spirit. 

The human spirit is presented intra-personally as 3 ‘voices’ – 3 modes of being & of engaging with reality & of knowing.

The three emanate from the singleness of ‘heart-mind’, consciousness.  

They are presented (metaphorically) as the ‘primary colours’ of Creativity (the yellow of inspiration), Criticality (the blue of reason) & Caring (the red warmth of love). 

Creativity is the ‘I’ voice of subjective engagement via an artistic medium – it is concerned with subjective knowing and is particularly related to the core virtue ‘beauty’ and its products are of course ‘the Arts’. 

Criticality is the ‘IT’ voice of objective engagement which enables progress in the Sciences ( & Maths., Philosophy and ‘critical’ studies). It is concerned with objective knowing – and it is related particularly to the core virtue ‘truth’.  The products of course are the sciences and technology  – but also philosophy and critical studies.

Caring is the ‘WE’ voice which enables moral engagement – for progress in the moral domain and in service of others. It is concerned with social knowing – related particularly to the core virtue ‘goodness’ and to ‘the Humanities’. 

All three of course need to be conditioned by the pre-eminent virtue of justice.  All students need to have these ways of engaging with reality developed in a balanced way.  High technical competence combined with moral dwarfism leads to ……

The physical dimension is seen as the instrument for the flow of spirit in all of its forms – e.g. via dance, drama & PE and sports.

Each individual develops her/his I, WE and IT voices, the 3Cs, via socialization, starting in the family, the local community and then later in formal education. A sense of justice is seen as paramount intrapersonally as well as inter-personally i.e. it enables us to engage with that which is beautiful, good or true with balance, clarity & due weight.

The essential process in all 4Cs is multi-level dialogue. In the case of the individual dialogue is seen as meditation, reflection and inner-talk. In the case of groups it is dialectical process via consultation.

The ‘Celtic’ knot that surrounds the central shield indicates that the 3Cs are simply aspects of the one human spirit– the flow of ‘heart-mind’.

The white shield at the centre represents the meditative state in which there is no ‘focused’ engagement via one of the 3Cs – and in which there is relatively little of the interference or chatter that we experience in the unquiet mind. 

This can enable us to ‘go beyond ourselves’, i.e. transcend our normal knowing – any of the 3Cs (I, WE or IT modes), as gateways, can be a pathway to the transcendent and to subsequent improved insight into reality.

The black dot at the centre is the ‘well-spring’ of consciousness. For artists (and great scientists) it is the Muse. For religionists it is the voice of God within (albeit distorted by the dust of self). For non-religionists it is the inner source of spirit as energy & inspiration – the bits of realization and insight that come to us for which we don’t make an effort.

Educating the human spirit is seen as nurturing, and cultivating, the life-force which culminates in the developed human who, through higher-order consciousness, realizes abilities from within Caring, Creative or Critical engagements. 

Teaching is seen as nurturing and cultivating what is normally present, almost from birth, & certainly by the time we go to school – namely the flow of spirit expressed in nascent forms of Caring, Creativity, and Criticality – in Community with others. Holistic Learning takes place when the learner uses Creativity, Criticality and Caring – in Community – inspired by higher-order values – in dynamic combinations such as Creativity providing texts for criticality – which then, via dialogue, produce/attract the spirit for more creativity.

In SunWALK spirituality is not a dimension; it is the model as a whole. In SunWALK moral education is not a dimension – it is intrinsic to all of its praxis. 

The SunWALK logo can also be seen as a mandala, or even as a plan drawing for a fountain or an ‘arts centre of light’!  

SunWALK is a major shift to a process view of the world, of being human and of educating our young people. It rejects a worldview that is limited to the mechanistic, the ‘human-as-computer, the fragmentary and the materialistic; seeking instead modelling that is based on flow/process, holism and the spiritual.   

SunWALK is designed to enable teachers and students to become agents of change to transform a world that is still operated as atomistic, mechanistic and materialistic into one that is holistic, dialogic, and derived from the best processes and products of the human spirit.

The SunWALK logo and model of education Copyright Roger Prentice 1995 & 2009




SEE ALSO these allied blogs –

 Human-centred courses –

 Dictionary of Concepts

Home is HERE i.e. my ‘meta-blog’ -The ´1000 ways …of Celebrating the human spirit




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Back to the Eckhart Tolle discussion – intellectuality & the mind are as spiritual as prayer & meditation


In the context of discussion with contributor ‘Patrick’ I offer a contribution to the issues I raised concerning the brilliant Eckhart Tolle. I do this via a beautiful poem that describes, with exquisite simplicity, the mystical experience of non-duality, or oneness. The poem is by the renowned Chinese poet Li Po;

The birds have vanished into the sky,

and now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountains and me,

until only the mountains remain.

Li Po (701-762)


1 Clearly for Li Po there was, to start with, on that occasion, duality.

2 I’m assuming that Li Po returned from non-duality, back in to duality – unless he sat there until his bones turned to dust.  I assume he returned in order to do the laundry, chop wood, carry water.  Of course he would now do them on the bed-rock of enhanced consciousness derived from his mystical/aesthetic experience of non-duality.  Both wings of being human would be beating – as he scrubbed and carried and chopped. Enlightenment is now – if we let it.

In this world – the contingent world, the world of duality, the ‘Kingdom of Names’ – the complementarity of duality and non-duality is the key. Duality is not a curse, or a failing. When in dynamic inter-relation with non-dual experience it is heaven and perfection. Without non-dual experience it is hell, including the hell of relativity. The purpose of life is not just transcendence and timelessness – it is also immanence and being in time, moment by moment. Complementarity is the key.

3 The non-duality or mystic state is the same as the state of creativity (or the truly aesthetic experience).  We are ‘taken out of ourselves’ as we say in modern parlance.  Art  and ‘religion’ are not similar, they are the same – as Coomaraswami says.  It is the forgetting of self, a loss of ego boundaries, a letting go and letting God etc.  But the artist as well as the mystic comes out of the non-dual state back into the dual state. – and s/he becomes someone who lives with what s/he has created. What s/he has produced might even be a bit of a shock – a bit like the dumb panda who jumps when she sees that something is moving on the floor beneath her i.e the cub to which she has just given birth.  The artist becomes nurturer/appreciator/critic – more or less. They in duality are the left-brain evaluator (criticality mode) to complement their non-dual right-brain creativity mode. Complementarity is the key. One mode, and only one mode is in the foreground at any one time. Duration is from milliseconds to hours in the case of non-duality.

4 The question is are both states normal, desirable and, if the term is acceptable, God-given, i.e. both part of the life’s teaching-machine from which we are supposed to learn.  Or is one state bad, immature, to be got rid of, so that we can be non-dual 24/7?

5 Intellectuality is not the same as intellectualism, just as individuality is not the same as individualism.  In both cases the first is normal, healthy, proper, desirable.  In both cases the second is excessive, unbalanced, undesirable and pathological.  The same difference incidentally exists between sexuality and sexual-obsession. Tolle IMHO makes the mistake of not distinguishing between ego and the egotistic. He also can give the impression that he is trying to invalidate mind per se instead of distinguishing between true mind and the neurotic egotistical mind, trapped as it is by attachment.

Awareness, raised consciousness, is true mind. True mind is ‘xin’ heart-mind, interiority bathed in the light of the intellect and the warmth of true love, without attachment to forms – derived from the complementarity of the modes of duality and non-duality. ‘Without attachment to forms’ doesn’t mean without love of forms. Forms are the means (the only means) by which we can come to understand the essentiality of formlessness.

True love as Tolle says is realization of oneness – complementary to which is the glory of diversity.

God loves our celebrating diversity with Him as much as wanting us to realize oneness.

The one who is awakened is a one as well as a not-one – the Buddha was not non-Buddha – at least as a gateway, a pointer.

Spirituality or transcendence or consciousness is not increased by a diminution of intelligence, or more correctly a diminution of intellectuality. The intellect as enlightened heart-mind is the human spirit. Enlightenment comes from realization of the true Self, as opposed to self, that is the eternal. Unlimited Whole, the Silent One, God the Father, God without Name, the Nameless One etc.

Complementarity is the key. Yin is lovely only in the balanced presence of yang – and vice-versa.

6 ‘Before all else, God created the mind.’ (Koranic tradition)  The intellect is the supreme gift of God to man, the pinnacle of the way in which we are made in His image – providing we realize that all rivers flow back to the one Ocean, from which those parts also have their origin. Complementarity is the key.

7 The fear and misunderstanding of the term ego. The ego is simply the part of the self – the dimension or mode – that deals with immediate reality. As such it is neutral – like the heart or lungs or kidney. Whether it is healthy or diseased – now that is a different matter. The ego is as much part of the enlightened one as with the crass self-obsessive.

God celebrates His Creativity in the uniqueness of me, as well as in His Creation of our species.

We believe what we believe – some we choose to believe, some is ingrained.

The happiest of worlds is one where we can believe different things without feeling an obligation to kill each other! Complementarity is the key.

The ultimate sickness is to know who you are through knowing who you hate.



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Getting our I, WE & IT voices Balanced – inspired by Ken Wilber

Getting our I, WE & IT Voices Balanced


Are your voices in a twist? We each have 3 God-given voices to sing different kinds of songs. Imagine if one voice dominates & consequently the other 2 ‘shrivel’ to almost nothing. Where would we be?


Answer – where we and our world are now. This is how Ken Wilber explains our situation.


All great wisdom traditions (and Perennial Philosophy) used to believe in the Great Chain of Being which taught that reality was a rich tapestry of levels starting with matter:








Wilber suggests reality now is best understood as a Great Nest of Being – like a set of ‘Russian Dolls’ – same levels – ‘matter-body-mind-soul-spirit’ but like an onion. (All are forms of spirit?)


He speaks of three historical periods: 1) before the Enlightenment = pre-modernism; 2) after the Enlightenment = modernism; 3) recently = post-modernism.


What did the good side of modernism give us? The good side of modernism = we were able to develop separately the 3 voices of I. WE & IT – I, (Art) WE (Morality) and IT (Science)


I = the subjective voice that we express in the arts (Beauty – and subjective truth)

WE = the moral voice that we express in the Humanities including religion (Goodness)

IT = the objective voice that we express in the Sciences (Objective Truth)


In pre-modern times I, WE and IT were not separate voices. Before the Enlightenment the Church decided everything. It forced Galileo to recant the truth of what he saw scientifically through his telescope. The Church insisted the sun went around the earth. It also decided what was and wasn’t good, and what was and wasn’t beautiful in the arts.


After the Enlightenment modernism gave us three voices developing separately I, WE and IT which were also three separate ways of knowing which I prefer to express thus:


‘I knowing’ = the subjective voice in the Arts (Beauty as pleasing patterns en-formed) -Creativity

‘WE knowing’ = the moral voice in the Humanities inc. religion (Goodness as fellow-feeling) -Caring

‘IT knowing’ = the objective voice in the Sciences (Truth as sorting, measuring, replicating) -Criticality


The bad side of modernism = the domination by the IT voice (‘Scientism’) to create ‘Flatland’. That is the ITness of science has become so powerful that it has caused the other two voices, more or less, to become invalid. This has been called the dis-enchantment of the modern world.



Pre-modernism = science, the humanities & the arts couldn’t develop separate to ‘Church’

Modernism = all three could develop separately (includes separation of Church and State)

Post-modernism means different things to different people a) a reaction against modernism, b) a counter-balance to (Flatland) modernism or c) a continuation of modernism


More narrowly postmodernism = the idea that there is no ‘truth’ only interpretations, and all interpretations are socially constructed (by elites to exploit groups e.g. women or colonies)


Important in pm = ‘there is no grand narrative’ that binds – such as the Christian story. My answer = ‘yes there is – being human in the world, with others, seeking truth, beauty, goodness and justice = the perennial grand narrative’.


The bad side of modernism = the empiricism of science has like a cuckoo forced out ‘I knowing’ and ‘WE knowing’. Inappropriately applying the scientific way of knowing (empiricism) to other areas of life is called scientism . (Creates ‘Flatland’)


Fundamentalism is, in part, derived by rejection of modernism – especially separation of state & religion. Ultimately it = the unwillingness to let the I, WE & IT voices grow separately.


The good side of post-modernism – it teaches us that

1 Reality is not always pre-given, but in some significant ways is a construction, an interpretation. The belief that reality is simply given, is referred to as ‘the myth of the given’.

2 Meaning is context-dependent, and contexts are boundless.

3 Cognition must therefore privilege no single perspective. (SEE Wilber p121)


Conclusion: We still validate science (the empirical and the rational), though we teach it poorly, but we don’t validate contemplation. Contemplation can also be thought of as heart-knowing – which is inspiration that follows meditation, especially the experience of at-one-ment/egolessness.


Our interior self is a flow of ‘heart-mind’. – separating heart and mind has been a disaster that has invalidated, or diminished, the feminine principle in men and women. (Heart-mind is an ancient idea ‘xin’ or ‘hsin’ in Chinese).


I, WE and IT ways need each other. If a person gets inspiration from contemplation (as Einstein did) s/he needs to order it or check it with IT knowing and WE knowing. Science needs I knowing and WE knowing as well. The Humanities need I knowing as well as IT knowing. Art needs WE & IT knowing.


Organized religion has suffered because it couldn’t stay clear on I, WE and IT knowing. It has made a comeback via the arts and ‘pick and mix’ spirituality. Its special domain, like art is I knowing – + WE knowing as inspired by what it sees as the revealed word of God.


Action needed = The world (especially the religions, governments & parents) need to nurture the I, WE and IT voices to achieve balance and concord. Unity, peace & development depend on validating objective truth and knowing, subjective truth and knowing and the moral wisdom that lies at the heart of all of the great traditions. The call is to the balancing of these three ‘voices’ of the human spirit.


My educational model towards this end I have called SunWALK = we need to teach our children, and ourselves, to pursue Wise, Action, through Loving and Knowing guided by the Sun of higher-order values SEE www.SunWALK.org.uk Roger Prentice Email; rogerprentice@bigfoot.com Ver 8.7.06

Adapted from and inspired by the work of Ken Wilber in The Marriage of Sense & Soul


All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD. Summaries are HERE


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Wilberian Studies; integral and holistic studies that draw on inspiration from Ken Wilber

 I therefore sought to outline a philosophy of universal integralism. Put differently, I sought a world philosophy—or an integral philosophy—that would believably weave together the many pluralistic contexts of science, morals, aesthetics, Eastern as well as Western philosophy, and the world’s great wisdom traditions. Not on the level of details—that is finitely impossible; but on the level of orienting generalizations . . . a holistic philosophy for a holistic Kosmos, a genuine Theory of Everything.        —Ken Wilber (TOE, p. 38).

For my own work, and for the benefit of those with similar interests, I have decided to keep a list of sources that I come across that fall under the category of ‘Wilberian studies’. That is integral and holistic studies that draw on inspiration from Ken Wilber. These include leadership studies, education, philosophy, psychology etc. I am collecting these interesting variations on, and adaptions and applications of Wilber’s four quadrants and three voices of I, WE and IT. – SEE especially Wilber’s The Marriage of Sense and Soul.

My own diagram/application is at the foot of this posting.

Here are the first few other Wilberian ‘four quadrants’ variations, adaptations and applications ;

5 The Promise of Integralism A Critical Appreciation of Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychology by Christian de Quincey


4 Intimations of Jung in Integrative Psychology and in Ken Wilber’s Quadrants by John Giannini


3 Integral Spiral Dynamics by Michael Dowd

spiral-integral-spiral-dynamics-by-michael-dowd-four-quadrants.jpg HERE – click to see full size. Click HERE to see the 4 parts of the diagram in detail.

2 Developing Leadership Capacity: Searching for the Integral – by Wood and Hessler-Key


1 Prof Slaughter’s article


My own application;
sunwalk-logothumbnail1.jpgHERE was to suggest that teachers see the raw material of their work as the flow of spirit (the student’s spirit and their own) – that spirit inevitably being socialized in to the three voices of I, WE and IT. Teaching thus becomes the work of nurturing refinement in abilities within the I WE and IT voices. The real concern is the learner and her/his holistic development
The real stuff of education thus is spirit – that uses community and cultural stuff drawn from the Arts, Humanities and Sciences – the Arts being the ‘food’ of the I voice, the Humanities being the food of the WE voice and the Sciences being the ‘food’ of the IT voice. Proceeding like this I have suggested constitutes a) integralization and b) spiritualization i.e. a paradigm shift and one that in my personal experience greatly strengthens the academic concerns of teaching.

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Within the SunWALK model at the heart of this site (summaries are HERE ) I suggest that we all communicate at any one time in one of three voices – the subjective I voice of the Creative (Arts), the moral WE voice of the Caring (Humanities) – and the objective IT voice of Criticality (as in Scientific investigation, practical criticism and philosophical inquiry). I suggest that education, and personal well-being, is a matter of achieving balance between those three voices – because they each energize the others. I also suggest that wisdom is a balance of these three – at least practical, common sense, day-to-day wisdom.

The three ‘voices’ correspond to other triadic forms – Kant’s three inquiries for example. Another three concern how meaning is derived from text. This topic is brilliantly introduced on Daniel Chandler’s website at the University of Wales (Aberystwyth). He says;

The range of theories about where meaning emerges in the relationship between readers and texts can be illustrated as a continuum between two extreme positions respectively, those of determinate meaning and completely ‘open’ interpretation, thus:

* Objectivist: Meaning entirely in text (‘transmitted’);
* Constructivist: Meaning in interplay between text and reader (‘negotiated’);
* Subjectivist: Meaning entirely in its interpretation by readers (‘re-created’).

It may surprise some readers that anyone could adopt either of the extremes as a serious theoretical position. However, there are prominent theorists whose positions are at least close to these poles. For David Olson and other ‘formalists’ the meaning of a text is ‘contained in’ the text, and it must be ‘extracted’ by readers. Such a model of communication is ‘transmissive’: meaning is seen as something which can be ‘transmitted’ from a ‘sender’ to a passive ‘receiver’. As one moves towards the other pole the model of communication becomes more of a process of ‘negotiation’ or ‘construction’ (variously referred to as a ‘constructionist’, ‘constructivist’, ‘social-interactive’ or ‘dialogical’ model). In formalist theories meaning resides in texts ; in dialogical theories meaning is a process of negotiation between writers and readers (Holquist 1983). Those who stress negotiated meaning argue that the meanings of texts are neither completely predetermined nor completely open, but are subject to certain constraints. Some commentators refer to influences on the process of making meaning such as ‘a preferred reading’ – which may be represented in the text as ‘an inscribed reader’ or may emerge in ‘interpretative communities’. Individual readers may either accept, modify, ignore or reject such preferred readings, according to their experience, attitudes and purposes. This whole attitudinal spectrum towards meaning- making with texts parallels that relating to the nature of reality: ranging from objectivism, via intersubjectivity, to subjectivism.

As I have mentioned elsewhere understanding, and upholding, these various triadic approaches is vital to upholding an inclusive, universalist, world view and a balanced understanding of reality. It is also the antidote to fundamentalism and to various other sicknesses that plague us.
To be developed.

The ‘SunWALK PhD’ is HERE


To read the rest of Daniel Chandler’s introduction – and much more – go HERE

A very interesting article on identity, prepared by Chandler for the OU, is HERE

Other articles by Chandler are HERE


NB All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE


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If you’ve struggled with what people actually mean by postmodernism and its relationship to modernism and pre-modernism you might appreciate these extracts from Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychology – I certainly did.


See also my other posting on I, WE & IT and also the posting on Mythos and Logos including Karen Armstrong’s work.


Modernism, pre-modernism and post-modernism

In other words, the four quadrants (or the Big Three) are actually the underpinnings of the modern differentiation of the values spheres of art, morals and science. Where premodernity had tended to fuse, or not clearly differentiate, the Big Three, modernity clearly differentiated them and set each free to pursue its own path. This differentiation was part of the dignity of modernity, which, in allowing each domain to pursue its own truths, allowed each to make stunning and far-reaching discoveries , discoveries that, even the harshest critics agree, set modernity apart from premodernity.


But something else set modernity apart. The differentiation of the big Three went too far into the dissociation of the Big Three : the dignity drifted into disaster, and this allowed an imperialistic science to dominate the other spheres and claim that they possessed no inherent reality of their own (scientism, scientific materialism, one-dimensional man, the disenchantment of the world). Gone was mind and soul and spirit, and in their place, as far as the eye could see, the unending dreariness of a world of its; ” a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colourless; merely the hurrying a material, endlessly, meaninglessly.”


And so it came about that virtually the entire spectrum of consciousness, and certainly its higher levels, (soul and spirit), were reduced to permutations and combinations of matter and bodies. Put bluntly, all ‘Is’ and ‘we’s’ were reduced to ‘its’, to objects of the scientific gaze, which no matter how long or hard it looked, could find nothing resembling the Great Nest of human possibilities, but saw only endless patterns of process ‘its’, scurrying here and there. Integral Psychology P.64



Thus , it seems that premodernity had at least one great strength that modernity lacked: it recognized the entire Great Nest of Being, which is basically a general map of higher human potentials. But premodernity also had at least one great weakness; it did not fully differentiate the value spheres at any of the levels of the Great Nest. Thus, among other things, objective-scientific investigation of the spectrum was hampered; the specific and often cultural expressions of the Great Nest were taken to be universally valid; and the moral injunctions recommended to all were tied to those limited cultural expressions. Giordano Bruno might have experienced many of he upper levels of the Great Nest, but because the value spheres were not fully differentiated at large and their individual freedoms were not protected by law and custom, the Inquisition cheerfully burned him at the stake.


Modernity, on the other hand, did manage to differentiate the Big Three of art, morals and science, on a large scale, so that each began to make phenomenal discoveries. But as the Big Three dissociated, and scientific colonialism began its aggressive career, all ‘Is’ and all ‘we’s’ were reduced to patterns of objective ‘its’, and thus all the interior stages of consciousness – reaching from body to mind to soul to spirit – were summarily dismissed as so much superstitious nonsense. The Great Nest collapsed into scientific materialism – into what we will be calling “flatland” – and there the modern world, by and large, still remains.


Our job, it thus appears, is to take the strengths of both premodernity and modernity, and jettison their weaknesses. Pp 64-65

To re-legitimize other ways of knowing, to work clearly with and between all three I, WE & IT ways of knowing (plus community-tradition) brings the possibility of re-enchantment and balanced development of the individual and of societies!

The model at the heart of this site utilizes Wilber’s triadic structure you can read a summary HERE.



All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE


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Inspiring quotations for PhD thesis

Like heroes and heroines certain key sayings inspire us. Here I’m assembling the ones that have meant most to me.

As I re-find them I am putting the NEWEST at the top:

From my thesis;

The four texts that contributed to the leitmotif that, I hope, makes, of the thesis parts, a whole

Text 1)

“The larger the island of knowledge, the longer
the shoreline of mystery.” Unknown author

Text 2)

The search for reason ends at the shore of the known;
on the immense expanse beyond it
only the sense of the ineffable can glide.
It alone knows the route to that
which is remote from experience and understanding.
Neither is amphibious:
reason cannot go beyond the shore,
and the sense of the ineffable
is out of place where we measure, where we weigh…….

Citizens of two realms, we must all sustain dual allegiance:
we sense the ineffable in one realm;
we name and exploit reality in another.

Between the two we set up a system of references,
but can never fill the gap.
They are as far and as close to each other

As time and calendar, as violin and melody,
as life and what lies beyond the last breath.

The tangible phenomena we scrutinize with our reason,

The sacred and indemonstrable we overhear

with the sense of the ineffable.

Heschel A. J. (1971), Man is Not Alone, New York: Octagon Books p.8

Text 3)

Tao, the subtle reality of the universe

cannot be described.

That which can be described in words

is merely a conception of the mind.

Although names and descriptions have been applied to it,

the subtle reality is beyond the description.

One may use the word ‘Nothingness”

to describe the Origin of the universe,

and “Beingness”

to describe the Mother of the myriad things,

but Nothingness and Beingness are merely conceptions.

From the perspective of Nothingness,

one may perceive the expansion of the universe.

From the perspective of Beingness,

one may distinguish individual things.

Both are for the conceptual convenience of the mind.

Although different concepts can be applied,

Nothingness and Beingness

and other conceptual activity of the mind

all come from, the same indescribable subtle Originalness

The Way is the unfoldment of such subtle reality.

Having reached the subtlety of the universe,

one may see the ultimate subtlety,
the Gate of All Wonders.

Ni, Hua-Ching (1997), The Complete Works of Lao Tzu, Santa Monica, USA: Seven Star Communications – Tao The Ching (‘Chapter’ 1)

Text 4)

….set then yourselves towards His holy Court, on the shore of His mighty Ocean, so that the pearls of knowledge and wisdom, which God hath stored up within the shell of His radiant heart, may be revealed unto you….
(Baha’u’llah: Proclamation of Baha’u’llah, Pages: 8-9)

“The utterances of the heart — unlike those of the discriminating intellect — always relate to the whole.” (Jung)

Also from the thesis;

Introduction to Chapter 1 – an ‘overture’

By way of a short introduction I want to ‘sound’, as in an overture, certain ‘notes’, or themes or resonances. They are from writers, and a film-maker, whose statements have come to mean a great deal, in the struggle to search out my own story, and its meaning educationally.

Autobiography is a journey inward. St Augustine said:

Men go to gape at mountain peaks, at the boundless tides of the sea, the broad sweep of rivers, the encircling ocean and the motion of the stars; and yet they leave themselves unnoticed; they do not marvel at themselves.
St. Augustine, Confessions X2

Autobiography is not entirely a matter of re-collecting objective facts: it is re-creation as well as re-collection, but it is a seeking after a kind of truth; the truth of authentically being in oneself. Peter Abbs (1974 p. 7) calls autobiography: the search backwards into time to discover the evolution of the true self. It is, as such, about self-knowing, but something beyond the fripperies of the ego. Baha’u’llah, Founder of the Baha’i religion, in one of His own writings, cites a tradition from Islam: He hath known God who hath known himself. (Baha’u’llah: Gleanings, MARS database3 p.178).

For the theistically religious the more we come to know our true selves, the closer we come to the Divine within us, and vice versa. I make no claim, beyond a few faltering steps, but the ideas continue to inspire.

The ‘Thesis Poem’
I have chosen the following poem by Seamus Heaney (1996 p.14) as ‘the poem’ for the thesis because it shows beautifully how we resonate now, in relation to what we sensed and experienced as children. It also shows how, through metaphor, the objective connects with the subjective to thrill, to the very quick of our being.

About the poem, ‘Personal Helicon’ Pelligrino (2003 p.1) explains;

Mount Helicon is a mountain in Greece, that was, in classical mythology, sacred to Apollo and the Muses. From it flowed two fountains of poetic inspiration. Heaney is here presenting his own source of inspiration, the “dark drop” into personal and cultural memory, made present by the depths of the wells in his childhood. Now, as a man, he is too mature to scramble about on hands and knees, looking into the deep places of the earth, but he has his poetry – and, thank God, so do we.

Of course if Heaney was reading it we would have that wonderful voice, like an aromatic tree giving up the sap, and perfuming the air with all the good things from the soil.

Personal Helicon by Seamus Heaney
for Michael Longley

As a child, they could not keep me from wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.
One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it.
A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.
Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.
Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

Later I take up the issues of resonance, and of objective and subjective meaning combined in metaphor, and the power of the subjective in personal history, to continue to generate the new in the meaning-making we do. The darkness echoes, as we stare into the part darkness of the self, and its memories – we stare, each a big-eyed Narcissus.

The final ‘sounding’, or theme, in the Introduction to Chapter 1 concerns identity and the moment, which lives on, and in which the past continues to create. The piece is by Jorge Luis Borges4, who says:

Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made
up of a single moment – the moment in which a man finds
out, once and for all, who he is.

The one moment could conceivably be a choice – as in Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After Life where a group of 22 people are suspended between earth and heaven with a week to answer the important question: “What is the one memory that you choose to carry into the afterlife?” When each chooses his or her memory, this is all that will be remembered for eternity.

Professionally, the lesson, or pair of lessons, upon which this thesis is, in part, an extended reflection contains the one memory I would choose. Ideally it would be the whole of the two ‘story’ lessons.

If it was reduced just to seconds it would be the moment that one ‘deviant’ boy offered an explanation of the possible symbolic meaning of the two fishes that I had drawn on the blackboard. One fish was a line drawing, the other a similar shaped fish, but its shape was delineated via chalk shading (i.e. from ‘the outside’).

“Mr P I think one fish represents bounded imagination, and the other stands for unbounded imagination.”

His brilliantly insightful comment was the jewel in the crown of an outstanding lesson in which the class and I, so I felt, was as ‘one-mind’, intellectually sharp but attitudinally contemplative, in ‘cross-over’ from extreme left-brain and extreme right-brain engagement – and here he was, the boy always in trouble with various teachers, speaking my as yet unrealized thoughts, and riveting me to that moment.

It was the supreme moment, within the supreme experience in a life-time of teaching, and it was, as Jack Nicholson and the movie title say, ‘As good as it gets’.

One key quotation is missing from this section. It is; “The larger the island of knowledge,the longer the shoreline of mystery.” Anon. I now find that in a piece of his work Bill Viola was inspired by;

“The Self is an ocean without a shore. Gazing upon it has no
beginning or end, in this world and the next.”
Ibn al’Arabi (1165 – 1240)

The ocean and island metaphors, the limitless Self, the fathomless self, the moment and memories, ‘After Life’, self-knowledge and the impossibility of knowing the Self – all these and more are essential threads in my attempt too present in SunWALK a model of what it is to be positively and fully human as well as a model of how education can be intrinsically spiritualizing without the narrow sectarian religion.


All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

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