More on Ethics as part of Integral Recovery


Jul 09

In previous posts, I’ve discussed how to include ethics and morality in your inner meditative work. But inner moral awareness necessitates outer moral behavior. For our ethics to be Integral, they must include ethical action in all 4 quadrants from our highest current level of development.

An Integral Life Practice without ethics is foundationally weak. To choose to have an ILP is an ethical choice that involves all 4 quadrants. It is a conscious choice, as John Lennon said, to be part of solution rather than the problem. Obviously, the motivations of most people in the first days and weeks of treatment will be more oriented toward basic “survival” needs. But for recovery to stick, one must arrive at a higher moral ground, which takes diligence and practice. One of the signposts on this journey—an insight that we must come to through our own best efforts—is that our deepest self is also our highest Self. Those who equate emptiness with an existential void and nihilism have not experienced the “emptiness” of which the contemplatives and mystics speak. From the consciousness of pure emptiness or pure Spirit, clarity, bliss, and compassion arise.

Even in the depths of a man-made hell such as Auschwitz, the “great perfection” still shines through. As our practice deepens and we experience this light at the depths of our being, our desires become purified by the perfection of Spirit. Ethical behavior becomes spontaneous, as well as studied. As we go through our darkness, release our dragons, and build, through our practices, the higher rungs of our developmental spiral, self-interest becomes Self-interest. At the highest stages of human development, the self expands to such a degree that it embraces all sentient beings in all times and universes, including all processes and the evolutionary Spiral itself.

In our quest for an active, effective, and integrated ethics and personal morality, the AQAL map is extraordinarily helpful, as it allows us to act from the perspective that is high in its altitude as well as broad in scope, covering all the essential bases. We can choose more wisely and act more skillfully in ways that not only benefit ourselves or our group, but all levels on the Spiral, all sentient beings, and all the processes necessary for the good of all. We can thus be more ethical in our moment-to-moment interactions, practices, and grand designs. We use the wise compassionate embrace of the highest levels to care for and support the healthy emergence of all stages and types, in all 4 quadrants.

So then, the fifth line, ethics, infuses all our practices and actions with a higher moral purpose. This transforms all our practices from narcissism to a journey of personal healing and growth, in service to the highest good that we can connect with at whatever stage we are at.