When we are called to be of service to the Highest Good, we cross a threshold that moves us beyond ego into something deeper, more alive, more awake, more demanding – even into the realm of Divine Mystery.

Astrocyte as Image of Divine Mystery

Astrocyte as Image of Divine Mystery

Essentially we offer our work of optimizing Integral City to the Divine. And in doing so we demand of ourselves standards we might call “impeccable”. Roger Walsh reminds us however, of the paradox of doing so. Even as we practice to the highest quality of design, delivery and follow up, in serving the Evolutionary Impulse, we let go of attachment to outcome.

As cultural anthropologist, Angeles Arrien reminded us long ago – our work as an accomplice of the Divine is to: show up, be present, speak our truth and let go of results.

These most “simple” instructions take us deeper into our Self even as we step deeper into our service to the world.

When we are optimizing the impact of Integral City practice, we may enter a flow state, where the Divine uses us in ways we can’t predict or control. But once we taste the power of this “giving up”, we create the conditions to attain a state of greater “waking up”.

And as we survey the trouble spots of the world these days – mostly located in cities – we face challenges that seem overwhelming with seemingly no precedents for easy solutions. We do not know if the choices we make – challenging terrorism, dealing with homelessness, facing a deluge of refugee migrations – will lead to desolation or prosperity.

But our practice of contemplation, our opening to a collective intelligence, our commitment to a never-ending path of learning extends our circles of care to embrace the whole city as we sense the Divine embracing the whole planet. We can be of service in allowing the Divine to use us. There is magic in the Master Code – to Care for Self, so that we can Care for Others, so we can Care for this Place, so we can Care for this Planet. This practice impacts the city and the world with the Grace of the Divine and makes us accomplices of Goodness, Truth and Beauty beyond our understanding.



Thanks to Dr. Roger Walsh for his profound Keynote at Integral Europe Conference 2014, for inspiring this series of blogs on Optimizing Integral City Impact

What can I do to optimize Integral City Impact? We ask the question again – as an honoured contemplative practice to repeat the question as a doorway to yet deeper knowing.


Integral City Map 5: Spirituality in the Human Hive

Integral City Map 5: Spirituality in the Human Hive

Our spiritual guide in this series of Optimizing Impact has been Dr. Roger Walsh. He pointed out (at IEC) that we can seek to answer this question with a one-time answer from our knowledge base.

But when we treat this question as a Wisdom Query, it becomes a kind of koan, that takes us deeper into ourselves/Self and reality.

As intentional Practitioners we are called to develop the expertise to do three things:

  1. We can relieve external problems to the best of our ability as “barefoot doctors” or “Spiral Wizards”.
  2. We can heal the internal sources of problems in our own psyche, the anguish of others, or across cultural divides. As we widen our circle of compassion, we are more able to be the non-anxious presence who can offer a calm and grounded centre to be with others in difficult circumstances.
  3. We can bring more integral and Integral City frames to bear on the work we do.

As pioneers of a new paradigm for the city we engage spirituality in multiple contexts – in our personal reflective practice; in the work place; in our communities (of practice and place); and on behalf of the city as a whole. (It is the territory of Map 5 for the Integral City.)

Integral frameworks are now emerging in most domains of human understanding (including psychology, medicine, education, sexuality, history, geography, systems, culture). Thus we are recalibrating our ability to design habitats for wellbeing and relieve dis-ease in all its manifestations.

An integral mindset is able to flex and flow in a stream of awareness that opens eventually into a transcendental awareness, where spirituality in the Human Hive is an alive re-sourceful condition.

What I can do to optimize Integral City impact, then comes down to choosing a path of never-ending maturing. It means, according to Dr. Walsh, that we regularly dive into inner work as deeply as we can. He calls it “karma yoga” – where our work in the world of Integral Cities becomes a spiritual practice itself. It is the manifestation of our Master Code: Take Care of Yourself, so that you can Take Care of Each Other, so we can Take Care of this Place, so we can Take Care of this Planet.








What can I do to optimize Integral City impact? Is there a compass to show me the way? That is a question that every Practitioner, Catalyst and Meshworker asks themselves?

Integral City Compass

Integral City Compass

Barrett Brown’s research on leaders in sustainability, suggests that our Integral City leaders will frame their work as it relates to working “on” the city, or “with” the city, or “as” the city. As our capacity for practice increases we are able to deepen the stance for our work (along Brown’s spectrum of engagement) and become much more subtle in how we relate to the city and her many voices.

Integral guide, mentor and inspirator, Roger Walsh  proposes that we have a strategic choice in answering the question, “As an Integralist, what can I do to optimize my impact?” We can go for the one time answer based on knowledge – or we can go for the never-ending answer, that rests on a wisdom koan that takes us ever deeper into ourselves and our relationship to reality.

Walsh suggests that Integral Practitioners can focus on relieving the very real external problems we encounter in every city (from homelessness to repairing infrastructure). We can also seek to heal our own and others’ internal wounds (of heartbreaks, cultural divides, or awareness). And in all cases we can bring the integral frames to design a meshwork of resources that break up blockages that prevent flow in the system and open up energies, exchanges and enhancements to the city habitat.

Integral lenses, capacities and perspectives expand choices because we don’t attempt to apply a “one size fits all” approach to a complex and dynamic human system. Thus we recognize and bring to bear wider, deeper, more caring perspectives in our Integral City work. In fact,  Integral approaches amplify our capacity for caring. This in turn can relieve the dis-ease we feel in making choices and reaching out to others (affirming the old wisdom, that people care to know when they know you care).

Even when we are stymied by situations that seem intractable (think of the hopelessness one may feel in face of tribal wars, incurable disease, and human trafficking), as Integral optimizers we can access the mystery of transcendental awareness and open through the simple discipline of meditative practice to insights, revelation and spiritual knowing (of the unknowing).

Underpinning our intentions to optimize lies an attitude of optimism – some even call it a radical optimism that fires an Integral way of working in our cities on our Planet of Cities. So it appears that Integral optimism in an evolutionary past and an evolutionary impulse lies at the very centre of how we optimize Integral City impact – which is why it is situated at the centre of our Integral City Compass.


Footnote: Dr. Roger Walsh shared these thoughts in his keynote at the Integral Europe Conference in May 2014.





Mom always used to say, “be careful of the company you keep”. Transpersonal psychologist, Integral pioneer and wise elder, Dr. Roger Walsh, at IEC, emphasized the importance of the company you keep, to support your Integral spiritual practice. By gathering with, for and as the people who embrace the paradigms of evolutionary consciousness and culture, complexity and living systems we amplify the Field of Integral Practice.

That is why Integral City and its growing Community of Practice produce, support, present and attend the conferences that enable us to keep company with Thought Leaders, Designers and Practitioners who demonstrate the 12 Intelligences of Integral City.

Gaia's Reflective Organs? (Image from Chihuly Glass Gallery Seattle)

Gaia’s Reflective Organs? (Image from Chihuly Glass Gallery Seattle)


The wave of integrally informed or designed conferences, where Integral City has contributed has become a movable feast,  travelling from Perpignan, France (Renaissance II gatherings in 2009, 2010); to  San Francisco (the locale of three Integral Theory Conferences in 2008, 2010, 2013); to Budapest (venue for the Integral Europe Conference 2014); to Haiphong, Vietnam (city for the International Society for Systems Science 2013); to Izhevsk, Russia (location for Urbanfest, 2014); and  the ubiquitous internet (with our own Integral City 2.0 Online Conference, 2012).

Integral City Meshworkers (like Beth Sanders, Roberto Bonilla, Lev Gordon, Anne-Marie Voorhoeve, Diana Claire Douglas) bring special expertise to other gatherings in their local cities where city planning, organizational development, city development, transorganizational collaboration and systemic constellation work expand the influence of integral paradigms into families, teams, sectors, economic sectors, neighbourhoods and eco-regions.

As Reflective Integral City Practitioners our contributions to gatherings – whether they be local or global — help to heal a troubled world because we offer options for noticing more possibilities for healing conflict (from all 4 quadrants), processes for decision making that embrace all 4 Voices of the city, laboratories for learning (like Learning Lhabitats), technology for research (like values mapping and vital signs monitors) and principles for expanding circles of compassion (Master Code).

Situating and modeling, Integral thinking, acting, relating and creating, as it relates to human systems in the City, we bring “Mohammed to the mountain”. Because cities are the places where most humanity now lives (50% in developing world to 90% in the developed world) it makes sense that we take advantage of the greatest opportunity for leverage offered to Integral practitioners. As Thomas Huebl takes the ashram to the market place, he is recognizing the intersection point of the world’s greatest needs – to solve all the major problems created by humanity with humanity’s greatest purpose – to be Gaia’s Reflective Organ.

Integral City Practitioners, Catalysts and Meshworkers are learning how their skills can address our current evolution as a species – where  the individual and collective immaturity and psychological pathologies of humans threatens the existence of all Life on the globe.

Integralists are called to address the psychological and pathological immaturities and disruptive pathologies of individuals, groups and institutions that we have the lenses to see from all four quadrants of: intentions (UL), behaviours (UR), cultures (LL) and systems (LR).

Flocking together with other Integralists at conferences, city gatherings and working on projects, enables Integral City’s Community of Practice to amplify our capacities to not only embrace the great efforts of the Smart City, and the Resilient City but transcend and include them into the Integral City and Indra’s web of our planet’s cities.









As I write this, cities in many countries are being torn apart because the followers of conventional religious practice are at war with one another. Islam versus Judaism in Palestine. Sunni versus Shia in Iraq. Hinduism versus Christianity in India. Atheism versus Buddhism in China.

These stories grab the headlines, because in most cities of the world, conventional religions – from all faith systems – keep alive a storyline that those who follow its dogma are saved and those who do not are damnable. In this way the clash of religions and cultures is kept alive and inflamed. The practice of conventional religions offers faith in the one right way, but no hope for a way that embraces the essential life-giving teachings that lie at the core of each religion.

Symbols of World Religions

Symbols of World Religions


Dr. Roger Walsh, at IEC drew a picture of religion with a large enough circle of compassion that it transcended and included the best of conventional and post-conventional religions, to create religion that is transconventional.

Transconventional religion does not perpetuate the old story but instead offers what Walsh called a “psycho-technology”.  This psycho-spiritual technology transforms the mind and consciousness using the methodologies developed by the saints and sages who created the fundamentals of religious practices everywhere.

At the heart of these technologies are contemplative practices that are expressions of a mature religion that can effectively mature those who practice its disciplines and precepts.

Psycho-technologies like these, tame, transform and transcend practitioners in ways that impact the community psychologically, biologically, culturally and socially (in other words, with  an integral intelligence). These transconventional practices liberate practitioners from being “reactors” in the old stories ( that depend on religious hierarchies who command the one right way through power and dogmas) and release them into direct intuitive wisdom.

Cities using an integral framework to understand and embrace its multitude of religions and cultures and create conditions and habitats that attract and promote transconventional religion(s). Examples like the Parliament of World Religions, the Dalai Lama’s Mind and Life Institute and even the democratic practice of separating church and state, show us how powerful transconventional religious practice can impact the quality of life for all citizens. The simplest form of teaching children contemplation, meditation or mindfulness can sow the seeds of tolerance, acceptance of differences and the basis for “essential spiritual practice”.

In his book Essential Spirituality, Walsh sets out 7 essential spiritual practices that can optimize integral impact:

1. Transform our motivation. By shifting what motivates us from egocentric concerns to ethnocentric, then worldcentric to kosmocentric we expand our circles of compassion.

2. Live ethically. Our practices must be filled with the integrity that respects that our practices must not prevent others’ practices must and none must harm the other.

3. Develop concentration. Being able to focus our attention with intention enables us to mature from one stage to the next, progressively growing our capacity.

4. Develop emotional maturity. The studies of EQ (emotional intelligence) over the last 20 years has revealed that it lies at the heart of a spectrum of intelligences that starts with PQ (physical intelligence), leads to IQ (intellectual intelligence) and flowers into SQ (spiritual intelligence).

5. Refine awareness. Waking up to the world around us through all our senses brings us more fully alive and more fully appreciative of Life itself.

6. Seek Wisdom. All religious belief systems hold universal wisdom in their precepts. Understanding that the Wisdom continuously unfolds and teaches us at a deeper level, is the challenge that transconventional religion can help us meet.

7. Be of Service. The Buddhist Bodhisattva vow proposes that the highest path of enlightenment is to be of service to everyone, so all may become enlightened. The vow of service in the Integral City is embedded in the Master Code. Take Care of Self. Take Care of Others. Take Care of this Place.

As Walsh, underlined at IEC in Budapest, we can help our troubled cities (and the world) by making choices that foster transconventional psycho-technologies (aka religions that serve the vitality of life everywhere ).






It is amazing to realize that we can optimize the impact of Integral City frameworks in the world simply because adult development is possible.

Integral City Map 3: The Scalar Fractal Relationship of Micro, Meso and Macro Human Systems

Integral City Map 3: The Scalar Fractal Relationship of Micro, Meso and Macro Human Systems

As a pioneering transpersonal psychologist, Roger Walsh emphasized this point at IEC,  he explored how to optimize the impacts of the integral paradigm everywhere.

While integral thinkers not only belong to the school that adult development is a natural phenomenon, many of them are leaders in explaining, developing and promoting capacity development in bio-psycho-cultural-social dimensions. (Ken Wilber, in Integral Psychology, charted the developmental stages named by more than 70 psychologists, psychotherapists, deveopmentalists and researchers). Some of the stage paths have more granularity than others, but all of them identify three developmental levels that are active in cities. Walsh called them: pre-conventional or mythic (also known as pre-modern); conventional or rational (also known as modern); and post-conventional or worldcentric (also known as post-modern).

Integral City is a meta-paradigm – it organizes and aligns the paradigms of human systems within the city, so that the patterns of the “human hive” – the natural living system of the city — can be recognized. As a meta-paradigm for the meso-scale of human systems, it serves the macro-scale of national and planetary systems, but it also depends on the micro-scales of human systems that make it up – the holarchy of social groups to which we all belong (as symbolized in Integral City Map 2).

Interestingly our manifestation of adult development can vary depending on which group we are interacting with – the most advanced worldcentric thinker can devolve to pre-modern sports fan at the World Cup; the most accomplished integral practitioner can happily enjoy the trappings of modernism that make possible all the “mod cons” of the city from flashy car to smart phone; and the most devout integral spiritual leader can appreciate the shamanic practices of Amazonian tribes.

But what distinguishes the adult who practices an integral way of life is the capacity to see all of these experiences as choices that allow and demand the adult to be aware of both their objective qualities and subjective states, and thereby support the facility to make different choices when appropriate.

The capacities to think, act, relate and create along a spectrum of personal conduct, that can be consciously linked to adult development, is in distinct contrast to the majority of people in cities. Most people have not yet discovered that adult psychological development does not cease with the biological maturity of the body. Adult psychological development for many people atrophies when they leave their school and/or their faith teachers and is “normalized” by regular association with peers who live within similar constraints – thus reinforcing the beliefs and behaviors of tribes, clans and cultures.

Moreover, in today’s cities tribes, clans and cultures have converged from the many geographies of the world, each believing that they have the “one right way” and prepared to challenge, fight and even kill others who do not comply with it. In terms of adult development we could say that too many people are arrested at a pre-conventional or conventional stages of development. And the melting pot of the city ensures that the encounter of people at different stages of development will guarantee conflicts and clashes because of their differing worldviews, values and psychological capacities. So there appears to be an optimizing logic that one of the essential weapons to address and vanquish these clashes is through creating the conditions of ongoing adult development. (Core evidence for this argument, might come from the research the “simple” act of educating women in the developing-world, which has improved quality of life measurable in economic, cultural and social terms.)

Some people have misinterpreted the Integral City’s paradigm to be a vision of the city at a steady state and stage of the post-conventional level of development. However, I do not believe that is likely or possible. Firstly, each person in the city traverses the stages of development (as far as they choose and/or are supported). Secondly they do this amidst the ecology of continuously dynamic demographics of the multitude of human lifecycles in cities. Therefore, it seems that these two co-existing conditions will ensure that all stages of human development will always be with us in the Integral City. The dynamics of human systems in cities is precisely what makes them ever-complex and adaptive.

Which brings us back to the proposition that optimizing the impact of Integral City rests on the discovery that adult human development is possible. The development of the city as a complex human system, depends on the assumption that each individual has the possibility of a lifelong learning journey. This is a basic premise that underlies any expectation that the quality of life in the city can be optimized through living with Integral principles.

As Clare Graves reminded us, adult development is a “never-ending quest”. Perhaps creating habitats that optimize the opportunities for adult development is one of the greatest values that Integral City design has to offer the world? Through individual adult development we can then create the conditions to support the intelligences of “WE-space” that has always seemed to me to be the eventual natural legacy of optimizing the impact of the Integral City.


How do you optimize the impact of Integral City impact by getting our work out to the world?

Integral City AQAL

That is the next question that Roger Walsh asked at IEC.

First consider how important integral ideas are at this time in the world.

The city is the most complex system created by humans – and as such it is subject to information overload. Information overload has the tendency to make life very complicated. This causes and amplifies the stress that we feel at every scale in the city – as individuals trying to do our work, as families trying to stay connected, as teams in our work places trying to produce results, as organizations trying to stay on mission, as sectors trying to meet growing demands, as communities trying to engage neighbourhoods, as the whole city, trying to gain an overview of all this complexity to optimize our quality of life, cultural wellbeing, economic prosperity and infrastructural operation .

The value of thinking about the city using an Integral framework – one that can be negotiated with a compass and four maps –  is that it brings alignment and coherence to the many parts of the city. Our Integral City Compass shape shifts into 4 City Maps that help us to situate the dynamics and the patterns that too often elude us with information overload.

The Integral City framework helps us make sense of the cross-currents of our city lives from four directions:

1. how do the winds of change impact us as individuals? (Map 1 and Map 4).

2. how do the conflicts of relationships impact us in our social holons or collectives? (Maps 2, 3, 4)

3. how does the internal environment of Self and Others impact our awareness, beliefs and intentions? (Maps 1, 2 and 3.

4. how does the external environment of Place and Structure impact our actions, performance and capacity to manifest? (Maps 3 and 4).

With the situational guidance offered by compass and maps, Integral City can then support the unfolding of the intelligences that emerge as we optimize our interactions from the four quadrants of the city.


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