Integrality, Immanence, and Time-Being: An Exploration in Four Fragments

My Gebser conference abstract proposal, which has been formally accepted. This year's theme, held at Naropa University, is "Gebser and Asia: Theory, Practice, Engagement." You can read more about it here.

  Dōgen watching the moon.  Hōkyōji monastery , Fukui prefecture, circa 1250.

Dōgen watching the moon. Hōkyōji monastery, Fukui prefecture, circa 1250.

In The Ever-Present Origin (1949-1952), Jean Gebser made special note concerning the writings of Sri Aurobindo, describing them as “pre-eminent” and thus drawing comparison between the “new consciousness” of the “a-perspectival a-rational integral” structure and what Aurobindo described as the “supramental”— although Aurobindo would also describe his evolutionary mysticism as “Integral Yoga”. Gebser would go on to develop a friendly correspondence with Deisetz Teitaro Suzuki, whom he would invoke in the same breath with Aurobindo, writing that, “each have given a different name to what is essentially the same phenomenon.” Between Sri Aurobindo, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and later Suzuki, it was this resonating “corroboration” that would lend credence to the overwhelming spiritual intuition: a synchronous affirmation of an incipient, integral world. What comparisons, if any, can we draw from these brief textual linkages and affirmations? This essay seeks to find precursory insights in four fragments: first, between Gebser’s a-perspectival integral and Sri Aurobindo’s “supramental” consciousness. Secondly, using The Ever-Present Origin and Disintegration and Participation (1974) as leaping points, I consider a meditation on Taoism and the a-perspectival as an immanental, anarchic conceptualization of planetization, both for the lived individual and as an emergent world space. For Gebser, the integral consciousness opens time, and so, for its third investigation, this essay moves to Zen Buddhism’s Eihei Dogen (1200-1253) and his masterful, enigmatic text, Shōbōgenzō (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye) to find comparative illuminations between Dogen’s essay, “Time Being”, and Gebser’s integral a-chronon, or time-freedom. Drawing from all three perspectives — Integral Yoga, Taoism, and Soto Zen — and considering Gebser’s own biographical satori experience, the essay opens the possibility of an integral contemplative praxis, with an emphasis on reading as presentiation, or an opportunity for intensified leaps in consciousness.