Chinese Contributions to Dream Yoga


Religious Thought in Chinese Culture

It is impossible to entitle this chapter, “Chinese Religion and IDL,” because China never separated religion from culture. Beginning with the Jesuits in 1579, Catholicism could never gain a toehold in China because there was nothing about the dominant culture, with its emphasis on moral perfection, that it could argue with. Therefore, Catholicism won few conversions and came away impressed with the culture. China didn’t have a word or conception of “religion” as separate from other domains of life. Although other religious traditions have been influential in China, Chinese “religion” is primarily composed of four main traditions: Chinese folk traditions, which are a mixture of shamanism and Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. The spiritual outlook of most Chinese people consists of some combination of beliefs and practices from these four traditions. Buddhism itself had a very widespread and powerful expression in China from 200 BC until a persecution in the Tang dynasty in 845 AD, although Chan, the forerunner of Japanese Zen, continued to be important. Therefore, outside of Chinese folk traditions, Buddhism has not been a major influence in China for centuries.

To approach Chinese cultural traditions from the perspective of dream yoga raises some interesting questions. Did the Chinese consider life to be dreamlike? If so, when and how? What sorts of yogic practices did the Chinese use to “wake up? To what extent were the Chinese interested in waking up in dreams?”

Shamanic Origins of Chinese Traditions

Chinese folk culture never separated man and nature, which means that it is essentially animistic and cannot be understood without an understanding of shamanism. The shamans of ancient China were called the Wu. They were believed to be able to communicate directly with plants, minerals, and animals, to journey deep into the earth, and visit distant galaxies. They were able to invoke, through dance and ritual, elemental and supernatural powers, and enter into ecstatic union with them. Not Tao, not some God, but a countless host of greater and lesser deities, spirits of humans, animals, plants, stones, stars, rivers, and mountains, accounted in the popular mind for what went on in the world. The forces of nature, personified as spirits, exerted a direct influence in daily human affairs. Disease and misfortune were attributed to malignant spirits, the ghosts of those whose sacrifices had been discontinued. These were to be placated, just as the spirits of deceased family members were to be honored with offerings. Protection was provided by charms, communication through mediums, exorcisms, the sounding of gongs and firecrackers, the pacing of spirit-walls to prevent entry of evil spirits through a doorway, the burning of incense, prayers, and fasting.

We can see the echoes of such practices in current Chinese beliefs in the afterlife, the interest in channeling and communication with the deceased, the reality placed on contacts with the deceased in dreams, and the widespread belief to this day in heavenly and demonic forces. The difference today is there is not so much the attempt to placate such forces, primarily because we do not feel so much at the mercy of them as did the Chinese. We see many of these same characteristics in contemporary technological, humanistic Western society: belief in the afterlife, an interest in luck, as expressed in the widespread practice of buying lottery tickets and gambling, and a belief in a dualism of good and bad forces. While we have layers of technology that insulate us from the unpredictable forces of nature and strata of culture to protect us from disease and death, the Chinese were largely exposed to floods, earthquakes, disease, and invasions. Chaos was never so far from the doorstep, and propitiation of the forces of nature was a desperate attempt to create the security that we take for granted. Where the Western monotheisms elevated love, obedience and submission while fighting sin, and the Indian traditions elevated wisdom while fighting ignorance, Chinese traditions elevated harmony in an effort to fight chaos.

The Human Spirit After Death

The concept of an eternal or immortal soul is not found in traditional Chinese religion, just as it is not found in traditional shamanism. All things are manifestations of the tao in flows of yang and yin; some of these flows are more material, some are more spiritual. Man is a combination of these natural, animistic flows instead of something separate from them. Upon death the yin element in man’s nature returns to earth, which is also yin, while yang ascends to Heaven, which is also yang.   This is like a mixture in a test tube with two spinning, intermixing fluids; the elements separate upon the cessation of motion.

These two types of non-physical human yin and yang substances are basic to traditional Chinese popular belief and practice. The yin component of humans turns into a kuei if not placated by suitable burial & sacrifices. Kuei are angry, malevolent, or evil spirits, demons, or ghosts, not at all distinct from traditional shamanic demons or the asuras of Hinduism. The yang component of humans turns into a Shen when it rests peacefully. It sends down blessings to family members. Shen are the benevolent spirits of properly cared-for ancestors. The rites of burial and sacrifice to the dead were sanctioned both by fear of the dead becoming a vengeful demon and by hope that the dead would become a benevolent god. Such a fear and such a hope underlie all of Chinese culture, and a sense of constantly living in the presence of influencing spirits is pervasive. Consequently, to the extent that a “soul” exists within this tradition, it is a combination of yin and yang energies that separate at death. Spiritual practices were primarily designed to neutralize or banish the negative influences while doing those things that brought favor from the positive ones. These are thoroughly shamanistic beliefs, and China has probably had the longest, broadest, and most entrenched shamanism of any culture in the world.

Reincarnation and karma were introduced into China with the coming of Buddhism to China in about 300 AD, and with it the idea of heavenly rewards and punishments. However, the more fundamental ideas of liberation from the chain of rebirth, or that life was like a dream never seemed to get much traction in Chinese folk traditions. Chinese thought is much more invested in naïve realism, the belief that the sensory world is real and what matters, not liberation from it. We will find this same emphasis within Confucianism, which made it particularly useful and relevant for governance.

Under the influence of imported Buddhist concepts, it became commonly believed that after death the human spirit underwent trial and punishment in a sort of purgatory. It was then reborn in a life determined by its previous existence. The concept of karma required a soul as its agent, a belief that previously was not present in shamanistically-derived Chinese cultural traditions. Salvation was attained by realization, or enlightenment, concerning the truth that self was merely a temporary association of elements dharmas[1] and skandhas. The adoption of this belief by the Chinese is ironic, as Buddhism contains the doctrine of anatma, no soul. Anatma did not take hold permanently in China, but the Indian concept of the reincarnating soul did. It could be easily imagined as one of those spirits that had to be placated after its death. In fact, the typical function of Buddhist monks in the Chinese culture became the priestly recitation of “masses” to alleviate as much as possible the sufferings of the soul in purgatory. Notice how different this function is from that of Theravadin or Tibetan monks. The end result was a purgatorial system structured along Confucian bureaucratic lines, with a well-organized program of karmic bookkeeping, trial in courts exactly like those of the magistrates in the Chinese empire, punishment in various hells where the tortures meted out exactly fitted the crimes of the guilty souls. Those rare souls with an excess of good deeds over bad were of course able to pass directly into new births in favorable circumstances without undergoing these torments.”[2] If this were not so serious, it would be an amusing example of what happens when the doctrine of karma is taken to its logical limits. It provides a cautionary example of what can happen when shamanistic beliefs in spirits and legalistic assumptions about spiritual cause and effect are combined. You then have a perversion of something comparable to karma marga, in which good deeds were preferred and bad ones avoided for heavenly rewards. One reason why this idea took hold in China was probably for the same reason it was so effective in India: it supported social stability, because individuals, families, and communities would police themselves once they accepted the doctrines of karma and reincarnation.

As a result of this cultural interplay, two theories of the fate of the human spirit after death emerged in Chinese spiritual traditions. The first, closely bound up with family religion and ancestor worship, is based on the yin/kuei and yang/shen concept itself derived from a mixture of Taoism and Chinese shamanistic animism. The second is based on the imported Indian belief in karmic cause and effect and was found in the funeral rites of the ancestral cult. All of this is important background for understanding Taoism and Confucianism, which are both outgrowths from and expressions of, these profoundly shamanistic roots.

One important and fundamental way that we still find shamanism in full flower in humans, but perhaps particularly in evidence in China, is in an emphasis on luck. Luck is a thoroughly shamanistic, magical, and early prepersonal idea and belief, that is dependent not on God, gods, spirituality, or spirits, but on chance. In this system, chance or fate can be manipulated if you do the right things and avoid the wrong things. These can be spiritual acts, such at the propitiation of the right spirits and worshipping the right gods, or they can be completely material, such as rubbing the dice three times before you cast them on a table in a casino in Macau. The coexistence of luck with a highly developed industrial and technocratic society demonstrates the cohabitation of rationality and irrationality, of common sense and emotional impulse, and of practicality and unsubstantiated hopes.


The mystical Taoism of the Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu must be differentiated from the popular folk Taoist traditions of China as well as subsequent movements that call themselves “Taoist.” For example, spirit-travel to planets, stars and galaxies is a clearly shamanistic practice found within the Shangquing sect of Taoism. Taoist magicians use talismans to invoke the powers and protection of supernatural beings. Components of many Taoist rituals and ceremonies, as well as certain forms of qigong, are oriented toward communication with the plant and animal kingdoms. The practices of inner alchemy are designed to produce, from the bodies of its practitioners, the mystic wine of ecstatic spiritual union. Practices for achieving longevity or immortality, Chinese alchemy, achieving trance ecstasy, astrology, martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, exorcism, feng shui, and many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Taoism throughout Chinese history. All of these practices have much more in common with Chinese shamanistic roots than they do with the Taoism of the Tao Te Ching and the Chuang Tzu, the two seminal texts of philosophical, mystical branch of Taoism. In fact, there exists no scholarly consensus that any of these folk and shamanistic practices play any significant role in either text. Consequently, one should either not call these many popular practices Taoist, or else not call the non-traditional literary sources Taoist, because they are fundamentally and radically different. The following assessment is directed toward “philosophical Taoism,” that is, the writings of the Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu, because popular Chinese Taoism is most easily explained as an expression of shamanism.

What is extraordinary about these texts is what is not in them. We should be able to find clearly shamanistic sources in texts that date from 400 BC and 300 BC China, but we do not and neither do most of the prominent authorities on Taoism. Instead of discussing trance, spirit communication, journeying between earth, heaven, and hell, and totem animals, they emphasize wu-wei, or action through non-action), naturalness, simplicity, spontaneity, and the “Three Treasures” of compassion, moderation, and humility. The dualisms that are fundamental to shamanism are treated in an abstract way foreign to shamanism. Instead of its concrete, naïve realism built around sensory experience and the reality of perception, the Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu instead focus on going beyond and beneath appearances and on the integration of opposites. In fact, the concepts in these works are not only foreign to shamanism, but to the mainstream of world religions. They contain no dogma, ritual, belief, prophesy, blessing, divine law, or ecstatic practice, which is why these works are generally referred to as “philosophy” instead of religious texts. However, this is incorrect. It is much more accurate to term them “mystical,” in the sense that mysticism focuses on the apprehension of various types of union and non-duality.

“Mystical” is one of those words that means nothing because it can mean just about anything; it can be used to refer to whatever one considers to be unusual and miraculous: spontaneous healings, psychic phenomena, ecstatic trances, channelings, dream visitations, divination, or alchemy. The problem is that such a broad usage does not differentiate one form of non-sensory dependent phenomena from another. Consequently, it does not differentiate prepersonal, pre-rational mysticism, based on belief, emotion, and naïve realism, from trans-rational mysticism that is an outgrowth of doubt, skepticism, questioning, and reason. Nor does it differentiate temporary ecstatic state experiences, like near death experiences, from ongoing stages of development, such as nature, devotional, formal, and non-dual experiences of unity and integration.

Such distinctions are important because otherwise there is no need for evolution of human development; truth and bliss already are; they only need to be uncovered and recognized. However, if evolution and human development are facts and exist for a reason, then there must be differences between prepersonal access to the miraculous and trans-rational access to realms of unity. Consequently, there exists a genuine and important distinction between temporary prepersonal mystical states and relatively stable, ongoing trans-personal mystical stages. These prepersonal mystical openings can be genuine access to trans-personal mystical experiences, but that is not the same as stable openings that are signs of higher-order awakening or enlightenment.

What is remarkable about these two texts is that they show every sign of being authentic trans-rational mystical texts written by people who did not simply have temporary state access but ongoing stage access to one or more of the previously mentioned forms of union and integration. For example, a strong case can be made for the presence of natural, formal, and non-dual types of mysticism in the Tao Te Ching. Again, this is extraordinary, because there is no reason why this should be, if you look at the cultural context out of which these texts emerged, based on our present state of knowledge about them.

The mystery is that Taoism would never have been developed, nor would it have gained popularity, if it were not fundamentally in alignment with the underlying culture of China. In that regard, we have seen that the roots of Chinese spirituality are shamanic, meaning trance communication with spirits for the well-being of individuals and society, not as mystical mergence with the transcendent All. Therefore, the many mystical passages in the Tao Te Ching are most likely to be expressions of animistically-understood forces rather than as nature mysticism. But this does not seem to be the case, because it is not supported by the text. Tao may be conceived as the regularity of the operation of nature and the reality behind or within appearances, similar to the way a spirit or spirits are the reality behind and within the appearance of a rock, stick, mountain, flood, earthquake, or fire. The process of looking beneath the surface appearances of phenomena to the reality behind them is something Chinese were used to doing with spirits and the concept of powers beneath appearances. Perhaps this intention of looking beneath appearances was abstracted conceptually so that the very act of doing so became a way, the Way, or Truth. This underlying reality beneath appearances was very different from shamanically-derived spirits in that it was never personified as a spirit, deity, or as God. In contrast, popular Taoism developed a definite shamanistically-derived yoga to free men from identification with appearances so that they could know the underlying truth of Tao. This “way,” in addition to divinatory practices such as the I Ching, emphasized breath control, dietary, and alchemical techniques of transforming yin and yang. Some of these, such as found in The Secret of the Golden Flower, were very clearly derived from Hindu kundalini yoga.

Lao Tzu’s major contribution, from the perspective of Integral Deep Listening, is his exposition of how the microcosm is an outpicturing of the microcosm, the unseen reality within and behind form. This concept is fundamental not only for Taoism, but for the teachings of Master K’ung (Confucius), but in different realms. For Taoism the microcosm is life itself; for Confucianism it is duty based on the virtues of the Superior Man. The basic idea is that man projects his interior reality onto others and onto his understanding of the world. He creates relationships and governmental forms based on his model of his interior reality. This is a profoundly significant idea, and one that has only gained popularity in the West in the last one hundred years. Previously, and still in many quarters in world governments and cultures, man is a product of the societies and cultures in which he exists. The microcosm is an internalization of the macrocosm. While it is most certainly the case that both are mutually reflective of the other, Lao Tzu’s contributution – and Master Kung’s as well – was to emphasize how consciousness creates reality.

The most important aspect of Tao itself, which means “the way,” road, channel, path, doctrine, or line, is that it is a process rather than a “thing” or “entity.” It has also been referred to as “the flow of the universe.”[3] Dualisms are essentially conflicts between things and values that are considered to be real and those that are deemed illusions. Processes largely escape this dualism, because they are not primarily things, structures, substances, or nouns. Instead, they are primarily flows, states in transition, and verbs. You can “be” a noun, like a “tree” but it is much more difficult to be a “doing,” like “flowing,” running,” or “shining.” This is because an action is something that someone or something does rather than the doer of the action. From the beginning, at a fundamental level, completely separate from Buddhism and for different reasons, Taoism essentially ignores or does away with substance and ontology in order to emphasize process. This is extraordinary, not only because it is so rare in religious and spiritual traditions, but because it is a transpersonal emphasis, in that it is “trans-self;” there is no self doing these processes, no ego, no Atman, no soul, no Brahman, no Heaven, no God, no actor. Again, it is extraordinary for this sort of text to arise even without a historical lineage; in this case we have no historical precedents, and those that exist are shamanistic and a world apart.

If there is a tradition that was built on mystical Taoism that we can currently point to, it is the aliveness of nature as a process, and within that, a desire to look beyond appearances to their sources. In this sense, there is the implicit awareness that appearances are delusions and that waking life is a dream. In fact, this is the point of Chuang Tzu, when he wrote about a dream he had, in which he was a yellow butterfly. He then awoke, to discover that he was a man. But then he wondered: “Now am I a man who just dreamt he was a butterfly; or a butterfly who is now dreaming that he is a man? What is the dream and what is reality? This type of thinking is completely foreign not only to shamanism but to normal religious sentiment, because it questions whether it is even possible to differentiate between truth and falsity, or whether it is possible to say anything definite about the reality of existence and the self. How many people today are comfortable with such ambiguities?

Main themes of Chuang Tzu are spontaneity of action and freedom from the human world and its conventions. Rather than writing about moral and personal duty, as did Master K’ung, Chuang Tzu wrote about the falseness of human distinctions between good and bad, large and small, life and death, and human and nature.

Wu-wei is the leading ethical concept in Taoism. Wei refers to any intentional or deliberated action, while wu carries the meaning of “there is no…” or “lacking, without”. Common translations are “nonaction”, “effortless action” or “action without intent”. The meaning is sometimes emphasized by using the paradoxical expression “wei wu wei“: “action without action.”

In ancient Taoist texts, wu-wei is associated with water through its yielding nature. Taoist philosophy proposes that the universe works harmoniously according to its own ways. When someone exerts their will against the world, they disrupt that harmony. However, Taoism does not identify will as the root problem, but rather a failure to place one’s will in harmony with the natural universe. Thus, a potentially harmful interference must be avoided, and in this way, goals can be achieved effortlessly. “By wu-wei, the sage seeks to come into harmony with the great Tao, which itself accomplishes by nonaction.”[4]

IDL draws similarities to its own emphasis. Like Taoism, it does not identify one’s will as the root problem. Instead, the emphasis is on making our priorities in harmony with those of our life compass and life itself. While there is no assurance that identifying with high-scoring emerging potentials and their priorities will put one into accord with life or the “natural universe,” there is most definitely a suspension of self-priorities to accomplish a similar purpose. This, however, is not nonaction in the form of doing nothing, but in order to suspend priorities of waking identity and instead internalize the priorities of high scoring emerging potentials. IDL assumes that the early Taoist authors must not have meant nonaction, because clearly they were not proposing the cessation of all action, passivity, and death. Instead, they must have been urging action originating from an entirely different place than one’s will, but without recourse to divine will, dharma, “conscience,” “intuition,” or “higher self.” This is similar to the intent of IDL.

Naturalness, which is associated with spontaneity and creativity, is regarded as a central value in Taoism. This is the “primordial state” of all things that you become when you identify with the Tao. Two of the means of doing so involve freeing yourself from selfishness and desire, and appreciating simplicity. IDL views spontaneity and creativity as central values but not as “primordial,” or issuing from a “primordial state.” Taoism seems to veer into romantic regression at this point by seeing naturalness as an original state that one returns to.[5] IDL, in contrast, views regression as a movement toward incoherence, chaos, and unconsciousness; what is imagined as an integrated Source actually has the unity of the developing self projected onto it. Without the self there is only unconscious unity; there is no awareness or self-awareness, similar to normal deep sleep. In this regard IDL breaks with Taoism, Platonism, and most New Age spirituality while agreeing with Wilber’s integral AQAL.

The three treasures or three jewels” of Taoism, compassion, moderation, and humility, are translated by Waley as “abstention from aggressive war and capital punishment”, “absolute simplicity of living”, and “refusal to assert active authority.” These characteristics are quite at variance from both traditional shamanism and contemporary society, both of which tend to focus on power, consumption, and the self.

Here is an example of mystical experiential union with the Tao from the Tao Te Ching:

Push far enough towards the Void,
Hold fast enough to the Quietness,
And of the ten thousand things none but can be worked on by you.

This return to the root is called Quietness.

To know the always-so is to be Illuminated [and h]e who knows the always-so has room in him for everything.

Tao is forever and he that possesses it,
Though his body ceases, is not destroyed.[6]

The Nei-Yeh says that mystically tapping the power of the Tao is the mark of a sage:

The vital essence of all things:
It is this that brings them to life.
It generates the five grains below
And becomes the constellated stars above. When flowing amid the heavens and the earth we call it ghostly and numinous.
When stored within the chests of human beings, we call them sages.[7] (1, Roth)

The Nei-Yeh also tells us that the Tao cannot be perceived with the senses (Verse 6), does not reside in any single place, but in the mind (Verse 5), and yet simultaneously encompasses the whole earth (Verse 14). Union with it makes “vision” and “hearing” clear (used metaphorically for mystical insight, Verse 8) … although such union does not result in “knowing” anything (Verse 8). The Nei-Yeh goes on to describe the essence of its understanding of Taoist practice. Enabling the Tao to dwell within one’s “chest” requires:

solitude and lack of sensation (24, 12, 14);
a tranquil and empty (thought-less) mind (5, 8);
regulation of the breath (5, 19, 21, 22, 24);
special alignment or postures of the body (11, 16, 19) in fixed positions (6, 8); moderation in eating, neither too much nor too little (23),
moderation in the emotional life—avoiding anxiety, anger, sadness, delight, joy, profit- seeking (ambition) (3, 21, 23, 25);
use of poetry and music to overcome negative emotions (22);
a reverent attitude toward the Tao (2, 13, 16).

When you enlarge your mind and let go of it,

When you relax your vital breath and expand it,

When your body is calm and unmoving:

And you can maintain the One and discard the myriad disturbances.

You will see profit and not be enticed by it,

You will see harm and not be frightened by it.

Relaxed and unwound, yet acutely sensitive,

In solitude you delight in your own person.

This is called “revolving the vital breath”:

Your thoughts and deeds seem heavenly.[8]

There is no hint in the Nei-Yeh, or any other early Taoist document, of the inducements to ecstasy found in shamanism—drugs, fire, hysterics, dancing, seizure, masks and symbols, drums—only quietism and meditation.[9] Like the Tao Te Ching, it can only express the ineffability of the Tao through the via negativa:

As for the Way:
It is what the mouth cannot speak of, the eyes cannot see it,
And the ears cannot hear it,[10]

And its one positive description is filled with classic mystical contradiction:

Bright!—as if ascending the heavens;
Dark!—as if entering an abyss;
Vast!—as if dwelling in a ocean;

Lofty!—as if dwelling on a mountain peak.[11]

There does not appear to be a written record of this tradition passed down through monasteries or from masters to students, although this may have indeed occurred. However, the sorts of perceptions in these writings are far from the normal interests and abilities of men, and it is not surprising that mainstream Taoism focuses on more “practical” and “immediate” interests. IDL views these Taoist texts as remarkable in the clarity of expression of unitary states and non-dual realities in a way rarely equaled elsewhere in the history of the world. As such, they are both anomalies and something of an enigma. However, IDL also believes the fundamental states of clarity and awareness disclosed by them are available to all men, and show up routinely in the perceptual frameworks of this or that interviewed emerging potential. For example, aspects of a high unitary state are observed in the comments of “air” in the interview dealing with the Bhagavad Gita in the chapter on Hinduism:

Air: “I am alive, yet I am deathless. You can’t cut me or destroy me, although you can pollute me and change my composition. I am witnessing both the sky and my transformation by the breathing process by these people and animals. It is so normal and has been going on for so long that I normally don’t notice it.”

“…I am invisible and appear so “weak” as to be non-existent. Yet I am the source of life…I personify human unending, limitless sustenance. Abundance…I have an intimate connection with life because I am life; I have the wisdom of life…Death does not affect me; joy and happiness do not affect me; otherwise I would be fickle. I accept all things, all events, and I accept myself…even when there are tornados and hurricanes I am at peace, because I am still me. Why should I be less me just because I am moving quickly and powerfully? My peace comes from knowing what I am and being what I am…I am a part of, yet separate from, all things. Even rocks contain my elements!”

“Instead of breathing me in and out, I recommend humans be me breathing them. I would have humans look at their life moment to moment from my perspective. This will objectify their physical sensations, emotions, images, and thoughts.”

“I am anything but passive. I am intimately invested in all aspects of life. I am anything but disconnected. So to confuse my disinterest with passivity and disconnectedness is a mistake.”


Confucianism is highly unusual because of its relevance to those dream yogas that are not content to focus on waking up in dreaming or other states, but within the dream of waking life. Confucius (Master K’ung, 551-479 BC) and Confuciansm, or the teachings of Master K’ung, are often overlooked and minimized by the philosophical, psychological, and spiritual traditions of the West. His ethical philosophy springs from a desire to create and defend order as well as a desire to minimize chaos. This is because Chinese society was regularly and catastrophically upended by disastrous floods along its great rivers, by earthquakes, and by invasion, as China has no border mountain ranges to provide natural defense. In addition, governance itself was unstable, with one lawless tyrant regularly being replaced by another in the various Chinese provinces. For there to be a healthy and secure society, individual stability had to be created and maintained This was Master K’ung’s fundamental project: to create a stable foundation upon which a secure social order could be built.

What order that existed in China was based on two things: the structure of the family and the order of the Emperor. By linking these to a common set of underlying virtues, Master K’ung hoped to generate order in both families and the nation. Family relationships were the core of social, cultural, and ethical life for China, and the moral views of the Confucian tradition were essentially an amplification of familial virtues. He encouraged strong familial loyalty, ancestor worship, respect of elders by their children, and the family as a basis for an ideal government. He emphasized study to learn what virtue is, personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, and sincerity, so that individuals could properly serve both family and nation.

Master K’ung’ genius was in creating a microcosmic form of self-governance by which to correctly govern the macrocosm of family and society. His code of right relationships and moral excellence describes first the “superior man,” then the family, and then the nation. His core formulation of this code stands the test of time:

If there be righteousness

in the heart,

there will be beauty

in the character.

If there be beauty

in the character,

there will be harmony

in the home.

If there be harmony in the home,

there will be order

in the nation.

Far from trying to build a systematic theory of life and society or establish a formalism of rites, Master K’ung wanted his disciples to think deeply for themselves and relentlessly study the outside world. Confucianism lacks an afterlife and its texts are relatively unconcerned about the nature of the soul. Ancestor worship is to be understood as honoring tradition and expressing familial piety, not as placating spirits as in shamanism. It expresses complex and ambivalent views concerning deities, and it is relatively unconcerned with some spiritual matters often considered essential to religious thought, such as the nature of the soul. Consequently, Confucianism is more accurately considered an ethical philosophy than a religion. Master K’ung was interested in the development of character. Foundational to that was the concept of reciprocity, “never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.”

Far from being an abstract or a stale legalism, this concept remains ahead of its time. The sophisticated technological culture of the twenty-first century is yet to catch up to this pronouncement which Master K’ung made some five hundred years before Jesus said much the same thing. What government of the world lives by it? What board of directors, what organizations, govern themselves today by this principle? Although this statement is normative, it conflicts with broad “same size for all” normative principles, in that it does not declare that you should treat others as they want to be treated or as some universal code would require, but as you would want to be treated. Since different people want to be treated in different ways, this honors the normative code of the individual by placing it above that of society. For example, one person may advocate for sex within marriage while another for polyamory, or multiple sexual relationships. Who is right? Generally ethical laws regarding sex are regulated by society for its own ends; the application of Master Kung’s principle would produce different results for different individuals and different relationships, independent of the values of others or society.

The yogas of Integral Deep Listening, in particular Dream Sociometry, reveal applications of the teachings of Master K’ung that are not readily apparent but are nevertheless profound. These include the ideas that the micro- and macrocosm mirror each other, a common emphasis on self-development, the centrality of character, the determination of character by virtues, shared virtues, an emphasis on all four quadrants, intrapersonal governance, personal governance, and a statement of social order. However, there are important differences. Confuscianism does not view life as a dream. It has no yoga of waking up out of the dream of life, much less a consideration of waking up in other states, such as dreaming, deep sleep or seeking mystical, ecstatic experiences. It has no decision-making by triangulation. Despite a powerful and well-developed expression of empathy, it has no identification with other perspectives.

The Micro- and Macrocosm Mirror Each Other

How does the microcosm mirror the macrocosm for Master K’ung? The Way of Heaven discloses itself in the order of nature. These natural patterns are summarized by qualities that describe virtues, such as harmony, peace, beauty, truth, wisdom, acceptance, love, and compassion. These are human values that are projected onto nature and onto the Creator of nature and made sacred as the Will, Order, Way, or Dharma of Heaven. These values, qualities, or virtues are then conceptualized as rules and laws to regulate society and the affairs of men. The role of the monarch or ruler is to uphold the Way of Heaven by defending its laws. This means subjecting the actions of men to them, to hold all to account by that measure. At this point, the concept is flipped and the microcosmic fate of individual humans is determined by the macrocosmic Way, and the ruler is seen as the protector and link to this natural harmony, security, and order. The microcosmic values of men are to mirror the macrocosmic values of the Way of Heaven. That Order is to guide not only individual action, but thinking and values as well. This is the logic and the rationale of divinely rationalized rulership in all times and places. Divine grace and power flow to the people through the wisdom and beneficence of its chosen servant.

It was Master K’ung’s genius to turn this formula around, to stand it on its head. He does so in the famous, seminal quote above. Righteousness, or goodness in the heart, meaning an allegiance to virtue, generates beauty in the character, or in the actions of men. This excellence of character, creates harmony in the home. When the homes of a nation are full of happiness, peace, and prosperity, then there will be social order. The government will be a reflection of harmonious families and beautiful character. It all begins with goodness in the heart of each individual.

What is revolutionary about this formulation is that no longer does microcosm merely manifest macrocosm; now the social macrocosm is made to mirror the psychological interiors of humans. Man no longer has to be the victim of natural disasters, invasions, or despotic leaders, all of which manifest the Way of Heaven in unacceptable, irrational ways. Now it becomes possible for man, by the choices he makes in his heart, to create social order. This was not only a profoundly new idea in Chinese culture; it was a necessary and beneficial conception that answered a very genuine societal need. That is why the influence of Master K’ung has remained so strong throughout the vast majority of Chinese history.

Both responsibility and control are placed within the choices of the individual regarding the values he adopts and the ways that he expresses them. This becomes something of an interpersonal yoga, in that it is a discipline of finding, restoring, and maintaining the appropriate balance within oneself and in relationships.

While Master K’ung believed in the mirroring of the macrocosm in the microcosm of human values, he also believed in the opposite: that the way to bring Heaven to Earth was to sprout Heaven out of Earth, to grow Heaven out of the hearts and minds of students, by nourishing Heaven’s Way in the hearts and minds of individuals. The macrocosm was to reflect a virtuous microcosm. For Master K’ung, the order of the State mirrors the order of the character of its citizens. Therefore, it is imperative that the Superior Man be cultivated so that society can be governed by justice. Similarly, the order of the family mirrors the character of the Superior Man. The character of the Superior Man is determined by the virtues that he follows and upholds. The macrocosm mirrors the microcosm as the interior world of values is outpictured as the character of the Superior Man and his character is outpictured first in a harmonious family and then in a well-run state.

The virtues held by the Superior Man in the culture of his interior collective quadrant are expressed by the interior individual quadrant in the philosophy and cultural humanism Master K’ung teaches. Those teachings find manifestation in the actions of the Superior Man as he acts in just, respectful, righteous, and honest ways. This is then expressed by harmonious familial relationships and governance when such men are placed in charge of the nation. A causal chain is created that is vaguely reminiscent of the Buddhist Niddana, or twelve-spoked wheel of interdependent co-origination. Values, interpretations, perspectives, and worldviews in the collective internal quadrant, generate feelings, thoughts, and consciousness in the individual internal quadrant. These in turn direct behavior in the individual external quadrant, which determines interactional patterns in family, work, and governance in the collective external quadrant.

Because values precipitate this causal progression that creates our exterior socio-cultural reality, Master K’ung applied pressure to bring about profound changes in humanity by focusing on the values, interpretations, perspectives, and worldviews in the internal collective quadrant. What Master K’ung did not discriminate was the source of those values. He thought justice, goodness, honesty, and respect were the “given” or self-evident Way of Heaven. Such virtues did not require validation, but only to be taught and lived. In contrast, Integral Deep Listening takes a phenomenological approach. It does not assume that any values are valid, true or a priori. It assumes that there are no values that are given, only life. All other values are provided by man to explain life and justify his choices. For example, the six core qualities addressed in every interview are not viewed by IDL as “innate to nature,” but are inferences based on observation of the round of breathing.Therefore, humans need to consult the “Superior Man” called by IDL one’s “life compass.” Not only is this Superior Man plural, in that each man has his own l compass, but you can know your life compass directly, through non-conceptual experience, and indirectly, through conceptual experiences, such as Integral Deep Listening interviewing of dream characters and the personifications of life issues. Such conceptual experiences elaborate the critical values of the interior collective quadrant, not as Master K’ung did, by the assumed Way of Heaven, but by the values exemplified and explained by the many interviewed emerging potentials that score higher than you do in core qualities of wakefulness. This earns them the status of “Superior Men.” When sufficient “Superior Men” are interviewed, a shared or average perspective or value orientation emerges. This points to the perspective of your life compass, which is a process and not a static thing, being, or substance. While it is always evolving, it can nevertheless be approximated through accessing the perspectives and recommendations through IDL interviewing.

The result is a much more stable and authoritative foundation for values. Instead of being built upon the preferences of wise men who declare they know the Way of Heaven, solid, lasting values are discovered, validated, and amplified by each individual in their own personal rendition of Master K’ung’s causal chain. Students of Integral Deep Listening do interviews to reveal, explain, and validate core values; these are conceptualized, first in interviews and then by each student for themselves. These concepts are then grounded in the applied recommendations from the interview. Concrete individual behaviors are undertaken in the yoga of an ongoing integral life practice, subject to the evolving priorities of one’s life compass, the feedback of respected others, and one’s own common sense. With that base of personal action, knowledge, and inner knowingness, the governance of self, family work, and state proceeds on a much more solid, stable, and lasting foundation.

Main Concepts of Confucianism

Jen and Li are two virtues that are fundamental to Confucianism. Jen (ren) is the core virtue that is the source of all others. Confucius’ social philosophy largely revolves around the concept of ren, “compassion” or “loving others.” Those with Jen treat others just as one would want others to treat oneself. “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others”; “Since you yourself desire standing then help others achieve it, since you yourself desire success then help others attain it”.[13] Ren is fulfilling one’s responsibilities toward others, benevolence, humaneness, goodness, authoritativeness, and selflessness. Cultivating or practicing such concern for others involved humbling oneself. This meant being sure to avoid artful speech or an ingratiating manner that would create a false impression and lead to self-aggrandizement.[14] Those who have cultivated ren are, on the contrary, “simple in manner and slow of speech”.[15] Master K’ung regards devotion to parents and older siblings as the most basic form of promoting the interests of others before one’s own. Those who behave morally in all relationships extending outward from the family probably approximated Master K’ung’s conception of ren. Virtue flows from harmony with other people and a growing identification of the interests of self and other.

The correlate of Jen in IDL dream yoga is to treat all beings with dignity and respect. This is extended beyond the intent of Master K’ung, to the domain of sentient beings recognized by Buddhism, and yet beyond that to clearly and obviously imaginary constructs such as dream toasters, cartoon characters, figures from mythology, fiction, science fiction, and romance novels. The purpose is not to extend to these the same rights that humans have and require; that is absurd, because what results is a life of metaphorical Parsee broom sweeping. Termites and lice are not given, nor does a cartoon character need, the same rights that we do. However, that does not mean that we cannot extend to them goodness, benevolence, and respect, out of an awareness of the dignity of their expression of creativity, life, and order. This is demonstrated microcosmically within IDL in the acts of respectful questioning, the surrendering of one’s own identity in a phenomenological desire for non-filtered clarity, and the identification with, becoming, or taking on the perspective of this or that emerging potential. Macrocosmically, it is demonstrated by the assumption of an attitude of respectful questioning, a suspension of drama and cognitive distortions, and an empathetic identification with the perspective of the individual, group, or position. You know you have done this when you receive validation from the other, that you have either repeated or embodied their perspective. This in no way implies agreement, only respect.

Jen is applicable in dreaming and lucid dreaming as a value to guide the perception and response to events and encounters, as well as the type of interaction to aim for. It implies that the basic stance of any dream yoga is based on jen, that is, to assume benevolence and goodness and to speak to that, respect it, and evoke it, even in the face of demonic evil. This does not mean being loving, peaceful, or kind. It does mean being respectful by a definition of respect that is evolved through triangulation, in consultation with respected others, various emerging potentials and your common sense. It does not mean to allow yourself to be manipulated by someone else’s definition of respect or jen.

The second core virtue for Confucianism is Li (lee), which provides a concrete guide to human actions that embody jen by supplying order and intention in the form of some benefit. Li provides the principle of social order and the structuring of relationships. Master K’ung believes you need a well-ordered society for human goodness, benevolence, and humanity to be expressed. Li therefore provides the structure to relationships, and that structure makes possible the expression of jen. This structure expresses the respect basic to jen in relationships by the proper use of language, expressing a balanced position or middle way between extremes, and the appropriate ways to express humanity, benevolence, and respect in particular human relationships. For example, Master K’ung thought love and reverence were the appropriate guiding virtues for father and son relationships, gentleness and respectfulness for brothers, goodness and listening for husband and wife, consideration and deference were central for interactions between older and younger friends, and benevolence and loyalty to the relationship between ruler and subject. Master K’ung also taught respect for age, because he assumed that age reflected experience and wisdom, and that out of respect for these qualities older individuals, objects, and institutions deserved li. Master K’ung taught that the practice of altruism necessary for social cohesion could be mastered only by those who have learned self-discipline. A concern for propriety should inform everything that one says and does. This might best be thought of as a type of karma yoga and dream yoga in that it involves waking up out of the chaos associated with a life not governed by virtue.

In addition to structuring relationships, li structures society, ritual, and life. This is necessary since there are limits to individuality, because every action affects someone else. Therefore, respect demands that we take these effects into account in what we do and say. Li involves not only ritual, but the etiquette, propriety, and morality with which you perform customary acts in the home or in your relationships. As such, it is much broader than our use of the word “ritual,” in that it adds sanctity to any action. Li is much broader than religious observance because it attempts to sanctify all of life. If you can imagine doing whatever you do with a constant awareness of its sacred nature, you are approaching Master K’ung’s understanding of li. As such, it is a transformative idea, because it is an attempt to bring the sacred into the routine actions and relationships of daily life. This spiritual consecration of daily behavior is expressed in tea drinking and mourning, as well as social and political institutions, such as in teaching, titles, and governing, and the honoring of both the deceased and those spiritual forces that govern the world.

IDL dream yoga adapts li as the “rules” that determine how respect is demonstrated and maintained while awake and interacting with the world, while dreaming, while deeply asleep or in an altered state, in addition to the structure of interviewing and applying recommendations. Let us say you wake up in a dream in which a monster is attacking you. Ren tells you how and why you are to behave: with respect and humanity out of your innate goodness and benevolence. However, li tells you whether to attack, ask questions, go into meditation, or run like hell. From the perspective of IDL, Master K’ung went too far in attempting to assign proper responses to different circumstances, because the essence of life is that what is respectful to one person or thing will not be respectful to another, or what is respectful to one dream character in one situation may not be respectful to it in another. Consequently, the default position of IDL is to maintain an attitude of respectful questioning. This means to check out your assumptions and expectations when in doubt. When not in doubt, respectful action is in order, not respectful questioning. The chronic problem that humans encounter however, particularly in dreams but also in waking life, is we assume respectful action is required and that we are doing so, when in fact what is needed is respectful questioning. We know this because in any dream, if you either question characters within the dream or afterward, in an interview, you will almost always find that your assumptions about what was respectful action are different from that of the interviewed element. Therefore, the challenge is to make respectful questioning your default expression of li and to fight back the fear that you are thereby indecisive, expressing doubt, or lacking in confidence. Instead, consider that it often requires more confidence and self-respect to assume an attitude of respectful questioning than it does to go ahead and act.

Clearly, this is an example of li as the balancing of extremes. On the one hand, you do not want to avoid action out of an intention to respectfully listen; on the other hand, you do not want to trust yourself and act confidently if you are not clearly rooted in ren. This implies a further test to ask yourself in a dream, waking, or any other state, as part of your dream yoga: “Is what I am doing and saying an expression of my life compass as best I understand it at this point?” If the answer is “yes,” assume you are expressing ren and act with confidence and trust in yourself.

The more interviewing that you do the clearer your sense of alignment with your life compass will become, because the perspectives you encounter may be infinite in their external manifestations, but they are limited and aligned in their priorities and intentions. This does not mean that all interviewed perspectives will agree with each other; they obviously will not. However, it does mean that you will find repeated themes, priorities, and recommendations that stand the test of triangulation.

The idea, in Confucian terms, is to evoke the “Superior Man” in your decision-making, by more closely aligning yourself with your life compass, ren, and expressing it in ways that respect the structures of life, li.

A third important concept for Confucianism is yi (yee), the intention to do good or act righteously. This involves strengthening your powers of discrimination, your ability to tell useful from the unuseful, being out of drama from immersion within drama, reason from cognitive distortions, and to know what actions are in fact respectful, benevolent, and in accordance with the priorities of your life compass.

Yi and li are closely linked terms. Based on reciprocity, yi refers to doing what is ethically best, and is often translated as righteousness. It is reaching for personal and social perfection, as personified by the “Superior Man.” It is empathy and harmony with other people, produced through a growing identification of the interests of self and other. Master K’ung believed in the superiority of personal exemplification of good character over explicit codes of behavior, such as divinely given rules. He was interested in promoting action that supported the greatest good, which he saw as the outcome of yì. This is doing the right thing for the right reason.

One simple and easy way to do this is to become a high-scoring emerging potential in an ambiguous waking or dream situation and let it act for you. This is not a matter of going into trance or surrendering your responsibility of making decisions. It is a matter of deferring to authority when in doubt. For example, in the chapter on Hinduism we did an interview with Air, a character from the Bhagavad Gita’s encounter between Arjuna and his charioteer Arjuna. It claims to score tens in all six core qualities, which implies that it is more aligned with the life compass of the subject of the interview than he himself is. Therefore, to become Air in an ambiguous dream situation, lucid or not, would be a decision to enact yi – a moral disposition to do good, even though you aren’t sure what good is in that situation.

This is different from relying on your “conscience” or “intuition,” something that Confucius would probably have equated with yi. In fact, the Confucian Superior Man is something akin to the Freudian super-ego, the assimilated or appropriated values of your culture. This is because these are generally internalized social scripts of one form or another which are now so much embedded in your “nature,” “character,” or “self-definition,” that you think they are who you are. You, along with Master K’ung, and just about every well-meaning teacher, guru, and llama in the history of the world confuse them with yi because you have lacked a methodology to differentiate them from your life compass. (In this last sentence I am using yi to refer to the priorities of your life compass, not to Master K’ung’s definition of yi. So IDL is here appropriating his terminology to apply to the principle that he seemed to intend, but lacked the methodology to discriminate out.)

Master K’ung believed that some actions should be performed because they are expressions of yi, that is, they are the right thing to do, rather than for pragmatic reasons, such as their consequences, effectiveness, or workability. For this approach to hold up, IDL assumes at least two conditions apply. One is that you have good reason to believe that your acts in a particular situation reflect not your priorities, but those of your life compass. This in turn assumes that you do regular interviews on your dreams and life issues. The second is that you act in the context of respectful questioning, with a phenomenological suspension of your sense of self, to the best of your ability. Consequently, yi is very different from the intention of soft determinism that typifies stoicism, and is different from thinking about the consequences as you act out of free will, the approach of utilitarianism. Yi is similar to Kant’s ethics of duty in that actions are done because they are in themselves good, not as a means to an end. When you act for the sake of jen, because respect for humanity implies the right human way to act, you are acting from yi. When you do so until it becomes second-nature, then right action, or yi is an expression of jen.

For Confucianism, the assumption is that if you do the proper external forms that respect the order of relationships, society, and life, that is, li, for the proper reasons, then you are acting in accord with jen. You can have confidence that you are practicing yi. IDL does not make that assumption. Instead, what it requires is that you take your assumptions of yi-based action back to interviewed emerging potentials, become one or another that you have reason to believe is more closely aligned with your life compass, such as Air in the above example, and ask its opinion. This is an example of triangulation. Just because your common sense and others tell you that you are acting in accordance with yi you still need to check it out. Here is an example. Let us say you are in combat, like Arjuna, and your buddies, officers, and “Krishna” all support you killing your cousins, the enemy. Your common sense tells you to do so because otherwise either you will die or you will allow your buddies to get killed. You think you are acting in accordance with yi. Are you? Here is another example. You fall in love. You know you have found your soul mate. Your family and best friends love your partner. You are sure you are acting in accordance with yi. Are you? How do you know?

IDL says that trusting your “intuition” or saying that your astrology chart, tarot card reading, channeler, medium, or guru told you to do it cannot validate that you are acting in accordance with yi. To know that, you have to interview one or more personification of the priorities of your life compass. Again, you do not know that they are truthful or accurate; you are simply increasing your odds that in fact, you are not fooling yourself and telling yourself what you want to believe, that this person is your soul mate when they are in fact, drain sludge.

Another important concept for Master K’ung is Hsiao (showe), filial piety and reverence for those who are the source of your existence, as shown in physical, emotional support, as well as upholding both their reputation and carrying on their unfulfilled aims and purposes after they die. Master K’ung taught Hsiao because he believed ren could be learned and that the primary and most important opportunity for learning it was in the home. He thought that maintaining a proper attitude of respect toward one’s parents was the quickest and most effective way to learn ren. It could then be extended by generalization to family, friends, society, and mankind.

IDL agrees with Master K’ung. Parents are due respect for their role, that is, for the people who brought you life or who are responsible for your care and upbringing, regardless of what they have done. However, there is a difference between respect and agreement and between respect and blind obedience. You can respect someone and still not agree with or obey them. This, however, is a position of IDL and not of Master K’ung. He would probably counsel erring on the side of respecting too often and too much. This goes against the grain of most Westerners, who are strong advocates of human rights. However, Master K’ung is probably basically correct: parents do deserve respect, simply on account of being parents, as do foster parents and teachers. Our responsibility is to get into the hands of parents tools that will make them that much more worthy of respect. Obviously, there are many ways to do so that are important: providing the ability to make a living to support the physical security of children, access to health care, educational opportunities, and good communication skills. IDL is interested in teaching parents how to listen to and follow their own life compass so that they can model that behavior to their children. Ideally, parents will teach their children to practice Hsiao toward their life compass, as an expression of respect for life itself. This is how IDL teaches jen through cultivation of Hsiao in the family. Of course, IDL interviewing in the family not only teaches parental respect but respect for each other as equals in the context of interviewing. It also teaches children the generalization of Hsiao to anyone and anything that can be interviewed, or any character in their sleeping or waking dreams.

Emphasizes Self-Development

The teachings of Master K’ung emphasize taking personal responsibility, believing that men are responsible for their actions and in particular for their treatment of others. Instead of blaming Heaven, deities, the State, rulers, ghosts, invaders, bad luck, or fate, Master K’ung asks his students to take responsibility for aligning their character with that of the Superior Man and then to become leaders in family, work, and government.

While problems arise from taking too much responsibility, as belief in karma tends to do, taking too little responsibility is an even greater problem. To do so means that you disown large segments of your own identity: what happens to others is none of your business, and you stagnate in ethical degeneracy. Taking too much responsibility, on the other hand, increases your failure rate, which means that you learn faster. Getting this balance right is a lifetime of work, and there is no one right answer. This is why the cybernetic feedback of both internal and external sources of objectivity is extremely important.

Living in times of division, chaos, and endless wars between feudal states, Master K’ung wanted to restore the Mandate of Heaven that could unify China and bestow peace and prosperity to the people. He sought a revival of a unified royal state whose rulers would rise to power on the basis of their moral merit, not their parentage; these would be rulers devoted to their people, reaching for personal and social perfection.  Such a ruler would spread his own virtues to the people instead of imposing proper behavior with laws and rules. The teachings of Master K’ung emphasized ethical self-discipline as jen. It was this concentration on character-building which engaged the minds of the men who governed China and created her high culture. Government was to not be by coercion but by moral example. The Superior Man was to take on the responsibility of cultivating his own character, including the virtues of righteousness, loyalty, trust, worthiness, modesty, frugality, incorruptibility, courtesy, learning, so that he could be put to the service of the state as a Superior Man. The educated elite in China therefore had as their primary obligation and moral responsibility the perfection of themselves to serve as moral paragons.

The problem with setting such standards is that they are both difficult to live up to and also complicated to measure. The result is that others have false or unrealistic expectations. Consequently, students of dream yogas are wise to make their standards and values public while downplaying their own advancement toward them. Humility is an underappreciated virtue that goes well with the elimination of personalization and the development of cosmic humor. This is also why striving for lucid dreaming or clear deep sleep awareness as a form of self-development, competency, or power tends to carry self into transpersonal states that can create imbalances. IDL focuses on balancing one’s current level of development, with the intermediate goal of bringing people up to mid-personal level of development, as marked by the elimination of drama and cognitive distortions, and then on the thinning of self thereafter, which is distinguished by a coalition of governance with interviewed emerging potentials that have proven themselves reliable and trustworthy.

Character is Determined by Virtue

How does one define character? Is character the values that you hold, the principles that you teach, the virtuous nature of what you do, or does it lie in the consideration and respect you show in your relationships? Is it all of these things or is it something entirely different? Master K’ung recognized that character involved all of these, something that he shares with integral approaches to character. He not only emphasizes values and the teaching of the nature of character, but virtuous individual behavior and interpersonal conduct as well. Just as he emphasizes the causative nature of the internal collective quadrant, so he favors the identification and amplification of those qualities upon which character is based. While for Master K’ung character involves what you profess and do as well as how you treat others, character precipitates from virtues. Of all these four quadrants of the holon of human character, values, in the form of virtues, are most important for Master K’ung.

Superior rulership over oneself and others is defined by the possession of de or ‘virtue.’ Conceived of as a kind of moral power that allows one to win a following without recourse to physical force, such ‘virtue’ also enabled the ruler to maintain good order in his state without troubling himself and by relying on loyal and effective deputies. Master K’ung claimed that, “He who governs by means of his virtue is, to use an analogy, like the pole-star: it remains in its place while all the lesser stars do homage to it”.[12]

Master K’ung’s development of character within the Superior Man was based on the cultivation of virtue and expressing that virtue in his societal relationships. The fundamental value there is respect for the social standing of each person and obedience to the laws of conduct governing that relationship. While IDL shares this understanding of the centrality of respect, it applies it to relationships with interviewed imaginary entities, something that most people would never consider either needing or wanting respect, nor would they see any benefit to extending respect to them. Certainly that would also have been Master K’ung’s conclusion.

Here are the some of the virtues that were important to Master K’ung: self-cultivation, emulation of moral exemplars, study, learning, the attainment of skilled judgment rather than knowledge of rules, personal and governmental morality, understanding of others, justice, sincerity, loyalty, trust, worthiness, modesty, frugality, incorruptibility and courtesy. This is such a broad list that they can comprise a list of objectives of socialization, meaning that simply striving to attain them can make a person responsive to social expectations rather than to their own life compass, which is indeed, what the history of Confucianism largely demonstrates. In contrast, IDL recommends students and practitioners pay attention to the values of high scoring emerging potentials and look for patterns of repeating values among them. While IDL uses the six core values for scoring, these are only guidelines based on the round of breathing. You are encouraged to do your own investigation and develop your own.

Moral education is important to Master K’ung because it is the means by which one can rectify the lack of love, compassion, and empathy in society as well as restore meaning to language. Moral education includes long and careful study of historical classics such as the canonical Book of Songs. One needs to find a good teacher who is familiar with the ways of the past and the practices of the ancients and imitate his words and actions. It means above all the teaching of morality, but also proper speech, government, and the refined arts, including ritual, music, archery, chariot-riding, calligraphy, and computation. Master K’ung’s goal is to create Superior Men who demonstrate integrity in all things, speak correctly, and carry themselves with grace.

Like Master K’ung, Integral Deep Listening has a set code of values or virtues. These are the six core processes and qualities. While Master K’ung draws his virtues from tradition and attempts to ground his values in the authority of the ancients, Integral Deep Listening grounds its values in the round of the microcosm and macrocosm. It asks, “If processes were to be assigned to each of six stages of the cycle of a breath, what would they be?” It observes that abdominal inhalation resembles awakening and chest inhalation aliveness, in that extra oxygen beyond that needed to merely sustain life is inhaled. It observes that the short pause at the top of each breath is a balance point between alertness and relaxation and that chest exhalation is both a voluntary and involuntary letting go or detachment, while abdominal exhalation is a mostly involuntary movement into radical “letting go,” or freedom. The longer pause at the bottom of the breath is characterized by an absence of motion and content, or relative clarity. It is the formless well out of which new life emerges.

Integral Deep Listening then asks, “Where else do we observe such processes in life?” While the terms may change, something similar describes the macrocosmic round of a day, lifetime, year, project, civilization, or cosmic cycle. In addition, Integral Deep Listening asks, “If these processes were associated with qualities, what would they be?” It observes that wakefulness is negentropy, the irrational evolutionary impulse of life to grow, in defiance of entropy, or the movement via inertia into randomness. This impulse to grow is relatively free of doubt and fear; it is audacious in its confidence that expression can happen and is right and good. This is most fundamentally not a rational act, but a raw expression of life itself. For these reasons, Integral Deep Listening associates abdominal inhalation and wakefulness with fearless confidence.

Chest inhalation, which is both involuntary and voluntary, is associated with aliveness, and an overflow of life energy beyond the needs of oneself. As values, this takes the form of both self-serving and selfless action, whether as service or compassion. Consequently, Integral Deep Listening associates aliveness with compassion, although words such as productivity, service and goodness will do.

Balance of alertness and relaxation, of yang and yin, wherever they appear in life, is wisdom. On an atomic level the wisdom of that balance is called equlibrium; on a biological level the wisdom of that balance is called homeostasis; in the human holon, that balance is called wisdom.

The detachment associated with chest exhalation, unwinding from the day, retirement, and autumn, can be associated with the quality of acceptance. This is not a passive quality; it is an active awareness of preferences, likes and dislikes, and a willingness to observe both in a disinterested, dispassionate way.

The freedom of radical surrender associated with abdominal exhalation, going to sleep, death, and the oncoming of winter can also be associated with the quality of peace and the absence of stress. This is also not a passive quality, but rather the identification with contexts that transcend and include stress.

The formless openness or clarity of the pause at the bottom of the breath may be compared to dreamless sleep, life after death, and the depth of winter. In that this is a space that is radically “other” than the processes that are associated with the round of life, it can be associated with radical objectivity or witnessing. IDL also experiences it as a space of radical creativity. Notice also that there are negative processes and qualities that can be associated with each stage as well: repression/fear; avoidance-egotism; imbalance-ignorance; attachment-drama; addiction-stress; and obscurity-unconsciousness.

In Integral Deep Listening these processes and qualities are not a priori “givens”; each student is required to explore these relationships for themselves and decide if they are indeed accurate outpicturings of innate life processes and values. If not, then they are free to come up with their own. These values are used in two basic ways within Integral Deep Listening. The first is to use as a measuring rod to evaluate the perspective of interviewed emerging potentials in relationship to oneself. If an interviewed emerging potential scores higher than you on one or more of these qualities, what does that mean? If it scores lower than you, what does that indicate? We look for the answers to these questions in the comments of the interviewed characters themselves.

Like the teachings of Master K’ung, Integral Deep Listening is grounded in a strong sense of interior collective values, but unlike Master K’ung’s teachings, Integral Deep Listening does not appeal to authority to legitimatize them. Instead, it appeals to personal experience, asking students to perform them for themselves and validate them in their own experience.

Collective quadrants are emphasized

By stressing the importance of virtues and relationships over consciousness and individual behavior, Master K’ung emphasized the collective quadrants over the individual ones. Because the value emphasis in Western culture could not be more different, Master K’ung’s values are largely out of fashion today. Where Master K’ung emphasizes order, stability, honor, respect, obedience, humility, and relationship, Western culture tends to emphasize innovation, flexibility, individuality, power, control, doubt, and questioning. While we can point to both Master K’ung’s emphasis on teaching and on personal action as an expression of character as strong examples of attention to the interior and exterior individual quadrants, there is little doubt that Master K’ung’s fundamental interest was how humans can harmoniously function within the context of collective realities, whether they be familial, cultural, social, governmental, or natural. This emphasis is not only very different from that of both India and the West, which emphasize individual developmental paths in addition to collective ones, it shares with Integral Deep Listening the question, “How can the interests of collective quadrants best be brought into balance with those of the individual quadrants so that integration can lead to advancement in developmental stage for individuals and societies? This is a relatively unique contribution that Confucianism makes to both IDL and development.

Master K’ung’s teachings lack balance because they favor the collective quadrants over the individual quadrants of the human holon. Instead of teaching the Superior Man to find and follow his life compass, Master K’ung teaches him to follow an externalized, universal ethical code, just as Buddha and Socrates do. Instead of taking Master K’ung’s virtues and ethical injunctions, such as his version of the Golden Rule, seriously, Chinese society followed the fundamental ethical principle that governs most parents and governmental institutions: “Do as I say, not as I do.” The result is a two-tiered ethical system; the rules that govern the people do not apply to those who govern; because their responsibilities are exceptional, their freedoms are exceptional. Therefore, they are both given and take license to lie, cheat, steal, murder, and destroy the greater good for their own short-term benefit, which is always in the name of the people and the greater good. How and why does this continue to happen in an age when there has never been more information available to as many people, as much access to health care and education, or respect for the basic human rights of citizens?

Personal Governance

We have seen how for Master K’ung personal governance is both macrocosmic and microcosmic. The nature of virtue flows downward, in imitation of the Way of Heaven. However, character for the Superior Man flows upward from allegiance to these virtues in his own life. Does the absence of application of something resembling Master K’ung’s analysis of the priority of relationship for the ordering of social, personal, and intrapersonal government keep an unhealthy macrocosm mirroring an unhealthy microcosm? We have seen that Master K’ung’s goal was to create superior men as rulers, men who would spread their own virtues to the people instead of imposing proper behavior with laws and rules. Because waking identity was the center of identity, so the ruler was the center of the power of the state. Because a healthy waking identity was considered to be unified and strong then, just as it is now in psychodynamically-based ego psychology, with an emphasis on self-esteem, confidence, and coping skills, no so healthy governance was considered to be authoritarian, autocratic, and decisive. Harboring doubt, indecision, or second thoughts, tends to be viewed as signs of weakness.

The externalization of Confucian values created a socio-cultural context that modeled, maintained, advocated, and probably strengthened autocracy in both children and adults, making it very difficult to create societal permissions for individuality or creativity. While this was very much not the intention of Master K’ung, these consequences are entirely understandable. Those who are individualistic or creative in a value system that emphasizes the unity of waking identity (the self) are likely to find themselves under immense pressure to conform for reasons of safety and the validation of powerful cultural norms. This is the psychological structure that has oppressed humanity from the dawn of society; it is hardly unique to China.

Integral Deep Listening asks, “What if waking identity demonstrates respect, a basic virtue for Confucianism, toward its intrasocial relationships? What if that respect takes the form of suspension of assumptions and identity, meaning that expectations, preferences, interpretations, and one’s sense of self is de-emphasized? What if that respect takes the form of deep listening to dream characters and the personifications of one’s own emotional and personal issues (the microcosm) as well as the personifications of the issues in his social relationships (the macrocosm)?”

Integral Deep Listening views the common sense worldview of waking identity as psychological geocentrism. That identity sees itself as the center of reality, the chooser, the determiner, of what is important to do and what is important to ignore. What such a worldview does is overdetermine waking identity. It places far too much responsibility on it for decision-making than it is mature enough to handle. This is because the decision-making ability of your waking identity, or sense of self, is determined by its level of development. All humans must evolve through prepersonal stages before they can even arrive at rational decision-making, much less arrive at multi-perspectival worldviews that transcend and include both belief and reason.

Waking identity is a subset of awareness. To make decisions for the entirety of awareness is like the tail wagging the dog or a child speaking for a family. You can decide that the response was appropriate, merely adequate, or a disaster. Whether you rationalize it as “divine will” or “fated,” you are allowing a narrow, limited subset of the totality of awareness to speak for and represent the entirety of microcosmic, intrasocial awareness. In society, this is called totalitarianism or dictatorship. It is only considered to be democratic when the opinions of the ruler are informed and actions limited by the collective judgment of the ruled. Waking identity, like all rulers, presidents, prime ministers, kings, monarchs, priests, parents, despots, tyrants, and leaders know that they speak for the governed. After all, they have their best interest at heart. This conclusion is self-serving in that it validates the power and sole decision-making capabilities of the government. The problem for personal development is that if waking identity makes decisions without the consent of the governed, it lacks authority, legitimacy, and credibility. It is sowing the seeds for its eventual overthrow.

Decision-making by Waking Identity

Integral Deep Listening sees in the teachings of Master K’ung both a diagnosis of and treatment for some of the ailments of both self and societal governance. It provides partial remedies for chronic societal and personal governmental pathologies when approached as a dream yoga. Integral Deep Listening begins where Master K’ung begins by emphasizing the priority of self-governance as the model upon which society rests. To do so emphasizes the interior over the external quadrants and the microcosm over the macrocosm. It focuses attention on where we have the most power and leverage – our feelings, thoughts and actions – without neglecting or de-emphasizing the importance of action in the external, macrocosmic domain. IDL does so, not because microcosmic realms are more important – they aren’t – but because they are more subject to individual control because they are internal to it. However, just because they are more subject to individual control does not mean that they are the focus of consciousness. Until very recently in human history they have not been, because they require both objectivity and introspection to recognize. Consequently, human development has been slowed by a focus on the two quadrants that are more difficult to change, individual and collective behavior.

As sacred and ethical traditions world-wide have done and still do today, Master K’ung bases self-governance on the choices of the self, that is, who you think you are right now, on the perspective or world view of your waking identity. His hope is that this self will evolve into the Superior Man; in practice your sense of self will tend to justify its own priorities and world view. This is a critical error that sabotages both individual and collective governance. It defines self-government in terms of the individual internal quadrant and how it interprets the other quadrants: the values, perspectives, and culture that it prefers; the behaviors, yogas, actions that it believes are important; and the interactions with people and the environment that it thinks are necessary. Personally, this leads to a dictatorship by whatever stage of development is currently in control of your interior individual quadrant. Socially, this leads to a dictatorship by whatever stage of development is in control of the national culture. The ruling bureaucracy of waking identity or societal governance set the rules based on its priorities, which are framed in the context of the developmental level of that bureaucracy. If those priorities are at an early prepersonal stage of development, it will use threats and fear to amplify security risks to immobilize opposition to its agenda. It will tell the public what it wants to hear, instead of the truth. We can easily find examples of this on a governmental level: simply generate a terrorist threat to immobilize reason and resistance. With individual governance, all we have to do is let our fears determine what we do and don’t do to stay stuck at an early prepersonal stage of development. For example, of all the causes of death, terrorism is least likely. You are more likely to die by being kicked by a donkey or having a Coke machine topple over on you than by a terrorist. Yet where do your tax dollars go? For what justification do you give up your Constitutional rights? They go to the threat of terrorism, an irrational, early prepersonal fantasy that serves the ends of the media, military, governmental bureaucracies, neo-liberalism, and politicians.

If the “waking self,” or collective identity of a bureaucracy is functioning at a mid-prepersonal stage of development, it will satisfy its emotional preferences, doing what makes it happy and avoiding that which makes it unhappy, creating alliances of convenience while indulging in whatever addictive form of self-rescuing it can get away with. When you combine the security-based priorities of the early prepersonal with the emotionally-based priorities of the mid-prepersonal, you have a powerful psychological magnet that pulls both individual and collective choice down to the lowest common denominator. When you add to this the reality that everyone must grow through these stages, but that there is no guarantee that anyone will grow past them, the reality is that most people and most governments will listen, hear, and act from one of these two levels most of the time, despite what they know and despite what the facts may be. Knowledge and facts have relatively little persuasive power in the face of security and emotional needs. We can see this in the operation of economic bubbles, in which the best and the brightest play along with the delusion because they receive benefits and it is too painful to change. These are the people who afterward tell you, “I saw it coming,” as if this was the point. By living out of our sense of self we can see a great deal but we only make choices that benefit it rather than a broader, common good. It is only as we expand our sense of self to include others that awareness and intelligence translates into actions that benefit our broader collective identities, both macro- and micro social.

If your level of development is late prepersonal, you likely to exploit whomever and whatever you can to extract maximum value, because to do otherwise would be to undermine your core reason for existence. Capitalism becomes the ideal societal economic vehicle for furthering the agenda of late prepersonal identity.

Because we frame personal and societal issues in terms of our stage of development, both as individuals and as governmental bodies, focusing on forms of governance, whether democratic, socialistic, communistic, or libertarian, is so much bread and circus for the masses. Whatever system exists is taken by the mean or average developmental level of the governmental bureaucracy and used to sustain itself at that developmental level. This entrenched governmental bureaucracy is known by many names, including the “deep state,” the “entrenched intelligence,” the “governing elite,” and “plutocracy,” At prepersonal levels of development democracy is used by this bureaucracy, to block societal evolution beyond prepersonal levels. The United States, while strongly personal and rational in technology and science, as well as culturally grounded in a constitution that guarantees human rights, uses these as tools to maintain an early prepersonal Sparta-type perpetual militarization fueled by early prepersonal issues of safety and security, that are in the service of validating mid-prepersonal emotional preferences and a late prepersonal agenda of greed. Later developmental levels, such as the collective social identities of political party affiliation, university education and the acquisition of reason-based credentials in law, medicine, business, or the humanities, are used by these regressive levels to legitimatize them or to provide tools that it can bend to its own ends. A good example is the way pre-rational New Age groups wrap themselves in science to advertise themselves as more evolved than they are. Human rights are fine for these lower developmental levels, as long as they don’t interfere with the security of the state; unions are fine, as long as they don’t interfere with business maximizing its profits; privacy is fine, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the need of government to know; negotiations are fine, as long as they support the ends of the state. If they do not, it’s time for war, either against someone else or the Enemy Within.

The microcosmic analogy to entrenched social and governmental bureaucracies are habits of thought, feeling and role. These are characterized both by inertia and great resistance to change. New ideas are regarded with suspicion, particularly when they come from imaginary interviewed dream characters or the personifications of life issues.

Integral Deep Listening’s solution to the sabotage of development by the standing bureaucracy is to base government on consensus decision-making and consultation with both internal and external sources of objectivity, with the final decision always resting with the common sense of waking identity. That is unavoidable, but it is also what is meant to be. Interviews demonstrate an astounding fact: many interviewed emerging potentials desperately want waking identity to grow up; they view waking identity as the messiah; it is the job and responsibility of waking identity to assume a leadership position and act as best it can as the representative of its consulted constituencies.

Accessing internal and subjective sources of objectivity, as IDL interviewing does, reduces many of the blind spots of waking identity. In terms of the Johari Window, it enlarges those areas known to self by internalizing perspectives known to others but not known to self. This not only reduces the power of developmental fixations; it also accesses perspectives that are multi-perspectival and trans-rational. The result is that there is a compensatory higher order input that is authentic to balance out the inertia of constant prepersonal influences.

Intrapersonal Governance

Integral Deep Listening takes Master K’ung’s analysis of the priority of relationship for the ordering of personal and governmental affairs and applies it to intrapersonal government. It is the absence of this application that has kept microcosm mirroring an unhealthy macrocosm and an unhealthy macrocosm mirroring an unhealthy microcosm. The application of Master K’ung’s principles of ethical governance to the intrapersonal sphere supports the macrocosm in mirroring a healthy microcosm and to thereby create a healthy macrocosm, or culture and society, in which to support human stage development through and beyond the perilous but necessary foundational prepersonal stages.

For Master K’ung, as for most people throughout history, intrapersonal governance is a matter of self-control. It is the responsibility of the Superior Man to amplify virtue, minimize non-virtuous qualities, and to develop character. There is, not only for Master K’ung, but for shamanism, bronze age religions, and almost all forms of contemporary spirituality, no awareness of an intrasocial community or an life compass,[16] no sense that microcosmic and macrocosmic governance needs to emphasize democratic, in addition to autocratic, characteristics, or that internal governance is greatly improved when other perspectives that have an investment in that governance are heard.

IDL concludes, in contradistinction to Master K’ung, that there needs to be as much decentralization as can be tolerated in both social and intrasocial government, because it maximizes the input of collective government. This is not psychological and social libertarianism, because it respects the fact that some functions do better with decentralization (power generation, production, communication networks) and others are better centralized (transportation, food standards, health and welfare standards). The paradox is that all functions, once learned, become competencies that function below awareness and serve as building blocks for still higher functions. This frees awareness to focus on broader and more inclusive types of integration and synthesis.

In the social sphere, these subunits are bureaucracies that function automatically based on policies. While some functions require strong waking control, most do not, most of the time. The more powers that can be delegated to a personal sub-awareness level and in the social domain, to the local level, the more flexible and responsive both systems of personal and social governance are likely to be. For example, when individuals can themselves generate all the energy they need they have a degree of security that creates both freedom and confidence that in turn allows more creative contributions to society. By focusing on the maximization of personal responsibility and growing order from within, Master K’ung encouraged individual autonomy in the form of primary allegiance to principles of Li, Jen, Yi, and Te.

Social Governance

How does the application of Master K’ung’s principles of ethical governance to the intrapersonal sphere allow the macrocosm to mirror a healthy microcosm and to thereby create a healthy macrocosm, for culture and society? Master K’ung’s ideas and observations, while often brilliant and highly influential in Chinese society for almost twenty-five hundred years, clearly were insufficient to either save China from itself or from conquest by the Mongols and by the West. Chinese government, steeped in the Confucian ethic, was, by the period of the arrival of the British, mostly a corrupt and sclerotic despotism, devoid of human rights or the ability to defend itself or its cultural values. Confucian principles were used to justify and maintain the presence of ossified mandarin bureaucracies that mostly served the function of self-perpetuation. Confucianism ended up valuing stability over growth and authority over innovation. Why? Was this a failure of the teachings of Master K’ung? Was it a failure in the application of his teachings? Integral Deep Listening believes both factors played a part in the overwhelming cultural stagnation that typified Chinese history until the 1970’s under Ping.

Master K’ung had an idea of what utopia, or an ideal society, would look like. It would come when the teaching of moral virtue was everywhere, in every home, where everyone learned to be superior men. Then, based on meritocracy, those most virtuous would rule over society. Consequently, culture would be transformed as life was regulated by virtue rather than by arbitrary laws. This is not so different from Plato’s Republic or Sir Thomas More’s Utopia. The problem with classical utopias is that they rely upon alignment with cosmic harmony by the rulers and government or they rely upon the wisdom of the consensus of waking identities. Both plans are subject to the level of development of the governing and/or the governed. You can have such a utopia when both the government and the governed, the culture as a whole, is functioning at a stage of development that makes a priority of practicing such virtues, however no culture has come close to achieving such a level of development, probably some stage of Kohlberg’s Level III, postconventional self morality. Government relies on the level of development of those waking identities that both form the government and are represented by it. Prepersonal and personal cultures do not generate governance that reflects intrasocial input for three reasons. Their degree of self-awareness is not multi-perspectival, they have no methodology to get them there, and they live in a culture without incentives to do so. On the contrary, most cultural incentives encourage stabilization at the current social mean level of development. Consequently, government is inadequate because relatively undeveloped waking identities attempt to speak for a whole they do not see, recognize, listen to, or understand.

The nature of intrasocial reality and the relationship between the priorities of various interviewed perspectives and social governance are most clearly understood and demonstrated by creating a series of Dream Sociograms and Sociomatrices, as part of a practice of dream yoga. Otherwise, these realizations are not at all apparent. Multiple years experience depicting snapshots of intrasocial reality were required to awaken to the relevancy of Master K’ung’s collective world view to internal governance, to understand what his worldview lacked, and why it did so.

When you collect the preferences of a number of invested perspectives toward a dream or life issue you are accessing an ad hoc intrasocial, collective constituency. You are learning about multiple perspectives that are important to consider in order to make decisions that are broad and stable. Unless you actually become these perspectives, in acts of deep listening as a function of a dream yoga, you are not going to access the component perspectives that together can and should create the values and decisions of the “Superior Man.” Why should you otherwise? How could you otherwise? The process of creating a dream sociomatrix, eliciting preferences associated with specific scores, and using this data to create a picture of group relationships is one powerful modality for objectifying, broadening, and thinning your sense of self. Consequently, your waking identity is much more likely to rule in ways that reflect the needs and intentions of the broad majority of its inner constituency.

The Importance of an Integral Methodology of Deep Listening

Master K’ung was quite aware of the governance of yin over some bodily and psychological processes, and of the governance by yang over other bodily and psychological processes,[17] as well as the importance of balance among them for health.[18] However, Master K’ung couldn’t effectively apply his analysis of the priority of microcosmic relationship, as reflected by the values of the Superior Man, to the ordering of either personal life or government because he lacked a methodology that disclosed intrapersonal government. Because there was no concept or methodology for accessing a model of intrasocial governance, what was projected out into the world was psychological geocentricism. As we have seen, psychological geocentrism is decision-making by waking identity. It is to assume the role of Superior Man.

The entire model of self-regulation based on the imposition of macrocosmic “Rule of Heaven” via the emperor or other political leadership, is flawed because it emphasizes only one pole, the yang, of a governmental polarity, and is therefore unable to integrate the two. Notice that the interior parallel to the imposition of the “Rule of Heaven” rulership by the “Superior Man.” In this case, yang is relatively external and individual waking identity and Superior Man while yin is relatively internal and collective intrasocial identity. Superior Man is created and regulated by internalized social scripting and conscience, not by one’s life compass. The voice of the external collective quadrant is internalized and mistaken for that of the authentic internal collective voice.

A more integral model of governance includes intrinsic, not extrinsic, democratic and collective interests, in which the power of waking identity flows upward, both bestowed and retracted by the governed. Microcosmically, that is the intrasocial community as revealed by IDL dream yoga. Balance in decision-making and in life comes with the integration of both polarities.

These are principles that Master K’ung did not see and could not see because he lacked both a conceptual framework and a methodology that revealed intrasocial governance. For most of the rest of the governance of the world, it is even more correct to say that it has not been, nor is it at present interested in understanding intrasocial governance, because that would mean power sharing by waking identity, and like all dictatorships and authoritarianisms, waking identity is loathe to share power, because doing so is associated with loss of control, insecurity, impotence, and death. These are the fears. The reality is quite the opposite, but that can only be discovered by approaching Integral Deep Listening as a form of dream yoga and performing the necessary experiments.

Because Master K’ung lacked a model for the consultation of these internal interests other than shamanistic oracles, he could not construct a methodology that would disclose intrasocial governance. It would be both unfair and foolish to expect any bronze age culture, or indeed, any culture prior to our own, to be able to do so because the conceptual discriminatory tools simply did not exist. Concepts like “psychology,” “self-aspects,” and the “unconscious” hardly existed until the 20th century. We easily forget the power of such assumptions to create possibilities that otherwise do not exist because they are not seen. Because Master K’ung lacked both a model and a methodology for doing so, the human psychological microcosm remained terra incognito, an area of life unexposed by human awareness. Nevertheless, what he was able to grasp was amazing and continues to be both misunderstood and under-estimated: the fundamental mirroring by the macrocosm of the microcosm: “If there be righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there be beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there be harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.”

Because concepts and methods that could objectify structures of intrasocial governance were unavailable, the consequence was that this domain was colonialized and exploited by both the social/cultural macrocosm of China and by waking identity in China, as elsewhere, to the present day. The inner world existed to serve, to obey, to be controlled, by its master, the Superior Man, who in turn was to serve, obey, and be controlled by superior men who governed the nation. Because the nation lacked rulership by such men, because humanity was out of touch with the character qualities that would turn them into superior men, and because even if they did, they still would lack the concepts and methods to support intrasocial governance, the microcosm had no choice but to mirror an unhealthy macrocosm. That is the status quo that remains world-wide, to this day, as reflected first in the common repression of wake-up calls and secondly, by their interpretation by waking identities instead of by those in a position to know: invested interviewed emerging potentials.

Other key concepts like democracy, intrasocial, and life compass, had also not been invented. Without such conceptual distinctions it is impossible for anyone to discriminate out the experience of a separate, living, internal government. The consequence of this non-discrimination is the continuation into adulthood and personal stages of development of the waking totalitarianism of the early stages of human individual and societal development, regardless of how much development there has been on the cognitive, self, and moral lines. Waking identity, particularly that of the “Superior Man,” knows that it knows what is best for itself and proceeds to demand those values, behaviors, and relationships that are important to it. Just like in the ancient days of Master K’ung, we think that our goals are the priorities of God, spirit, and life. How? Well, because we are honest, good, and loving, so our goals must be! Like Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, the premier exploitative investment bank in the world, we think we are doing “God’s work.”

What is “right purpose” from a waking perspective, proper upbringing of children by parents, the generous salvation administered by Goldman Sachs and the IMF, or the benign rule of the president over his constituents, may be viewed very differently when the recipients of this totalitarianism are interviewed. What you will find is that some subjects have no problem with authority, others believe the reliance on authority is short-sighted and therefore a cause of unnecessary suffering, and still others are adamant and demand immediate change.

We see the same thing in countless IDL interviews. Some interviewed perspectives will have no problem with the way you are running your life and will indeed encourage you to continue to do so, others will recommend additional perspectives to broaden the effectiveness of your waking authority, while still others will demand immediate change. Which one you will hear from is determined by how much the interviewed perspective is being affected by the particular issue, and that can be assessed by the strength of the wake up call, whether emotional distress such as fear, anger, guilt, shame, or confusion, interpersonal conflict, or physical pain. You don’t have to guess; you don’t have to assume that waking identity is imposing its will on its subjects; you don’t have to believe that waking identity represses dissent and acts like a colonizing imperial power imposing its will in a despotic will on the natives. Do interviews and draw your own conclusions.

“Bureaucracy” Defines Both Social and Intrasocial Governance

Unfortunately, the culture of the collective of citizens rarely defines governance. This is largely because as numbers grow, popular representation becomes unmanageable. The smaller the group, the more likely and effective collective governance is to be. Consequently, the culture of a stable, self-perpetuating bureaucracy typically defines what the prevailing government really is. This is the underlying reality for any and all sorts of governments, regardless of what they may call themselves. Because bureaucracies naturally tend to accumulate to themselves both the right and the ability to hide whatever actions and policies they wish to conceal, they are largely free to act without consequence or penalty. This is the description of any absolutism, whether a totalitarian fascism like National Socialism, a totalitarian communism like the Soviet Union, a totalitarian command economy like China, or a totalitarian democracy like the United States. This is clearly evident in the wildly unlawful operations of the US National Security Administration, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Homeland Security Administration. However, Greece, Rome, China, Catholicism, and Western democracies are all examples. These byzantine bureaucratic structures are dedicated primarily to their own preservation and expansion and are relatively protected from accountability.

Not only governments have self-perpetuating bureaucracies; so do individuals. These are made up of your habits of thinking, feeling, and action as well as your social roles. Your life script is an expression of your personal bureaucracy. Totalitarian absolutism due to a lack of oversight is the description of the normal state of affairs of your governance of yourself by your own waking identity.

If local rule tends to disempower and deconstruct rule by bureaucracies, then the interviewing of groups of characters from the same dream or perspectives associated with the same life issue will tend to generate local, ad hoc rule.[19]


Social and Intrasocial Systems of Accountability and Transparency


What both the teachings of Master K’ung and governance in general lack are systems of personal and collective checks and balances that emphasize both accountability and transparency. Notice that the issue is not the absence of systems of personal and collective checks and balances. Master K’ung established those, as did the Chinese government when it implemented his teachings, and as have parliamentary democracies. The problem is not an absence of checks and balances, or with inadequate checks and balances, but with a lack of accountability and transparency among those systems of checks and balances that are already in existence. We can see this clearly in the United States where its trumpeted system of checks and balances has been co-opted by a pernicioius collusion of bureaucratic, plutocratic, and political interests. We can also readily observe this in the functioning of waking identity when it shuts out and ignores integral deep listening in general, not merely the methodology which shares that name.

The solution to these problems of governance, which Master K’ung nobly attempted to address, lies in oversight. Transparency and accountability, both on an individual and a collective, governmental level, are more important to governance than voting, meritocracy, or laws. This is because history demonstrates that the public can vote for the best people who are ruled by the best laws, but if there is a failure to require transparency and oversight, corruption destroys whatever form of government exists.

The basic principle is both simple and well understood. The more remote and isolated government is from the people the less transparency and accountability exists. The more local and connected government is to the people the more transparency and accountability likely exist. This largely explains why the governance of Buddhist monasteries, and hence Buddhism as a whole, was less corrupt than Greek “democratic” government, Chinese government, or the government of the United States. Governance of Buddhist monasteries is local; with the exception of the Tibetan feudal theocracy, Buddhist government has always been highly autocratic yet extremely local, with little distance and few governmental layers separating the governing from the governed. The result was greater transparency and more accountability. Monks agree to rule by an autocratic style of government; they understand why the rules exist and choose to remain under them. This is different from a totalitarianism from which there is no escape, such as North Korea, where attempts at self-expression or freedom are met with prison labor or death.

In the United States, freedom exists to elect any candidate the plutocracy nominates and supports. There is the freedom to vote for Pepsi or Pepsi-Lite, with even those distinctions quickly evaporating within the context of party caucus in the legislature. Everyone has the freedom to protest, knowing that all their emails, passwords, phone calls, and electronic communications are swept up and stored, to be used against them at any moment. The result is a state of constant vulnerability and intimidation, knowing that at any point, if you raise your head above the other sheep in the flock, this information could be used to destroy your life. People deal with this reality by diving into the routines of their life and the joys of consumption, self-rescuing within the Drama Triangle to avoid the elephant in the living room: the emasculating powerlessness of the status quo. Such circumstances provide insufficient transparency and accountability for the governing bureaucracy, which unlike the politicians, is not even subject to the largely empty recall by the electorate.[20] While this contrast is dramatic in the United States, it is the relationship between the government and the governed everywhere – in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, China, India, Canada, Australia, and Brazil. This is maintained not only by the natural tendency for power to sustain and grow itself, but for citizens to grant powers to those agencies and individuals offering security and social stability, powers that they do not grant those citizens acting outside of a governmental capacity. This is a two-tiered system of ethics; one is moral and universally proclaimed; the other is immoral and put up with as necessary and essential to national security. Is it?

Integral Deep Listening attempts to provide transparency and oversight through its interviewing methodology combined with accountability in application of recommendations using the process of triangulation. Triangulation is more than a concept; it is a process to be applied individually and collectively, in families, businesses, governmental bureaucracies, and elected officials, as well as by the media. It is not enough to understand it; for it to work, triangulation must be applied in a way that is transparent, with an accountability structure in place. Otherwise, it becomes one more recognized and respected system of checks and balances that is ignored, just as government and individuals ignore the Golden Rule to advance the before mentioned Autocrat’s Rule, “Do as I say, not as I do.” “Ideally, you only know what I say, because I conceal what I do from you. Therefore, you judge me on the basis of what I say, not by my actions.” This worked well for the Catholic priesthood for some two thousand years; it has worked extremely well for the world-wide financial sector for over fifty years. It works well for any and all governmental bureaucracies as long as they maintain the power of concealment. It works well in interpersonal relationships as long as we can coerce others to take responsibility for our errors by teaching them to feel guilt and shame, or by using aggressive and abusive styles of communication, such as interrupting, changing the subject, name calling, talking in paragraphs, refusing to talk, and resorting to threats and violence. It works well as long as you and I can use Freud’s defense mechanisms of denial, repression, regression, projection, rationalization, and so forth. We can conceal the truth so that we do not admit to ourselves that we are living a lie. All of these are examples of unethical governance, because they curtail accountability and transparency.

On a personal level, Integral Deep Listening undercuts the sabotaging of intrasocial governance by making self-deception much more difficult. Interviews put anyone in touch with a broad spectrum of relatively autonomous viewpoints that know them at least as well as they know themselves. Therefore, self-deception is much harder to maintain. The interviewing process itself is therefore a powerful system of accountability and transparency. The transparency comes from interviewing emerging potentials that know you better than you know yourself, meaning that it is much more difficult for you to continue to lie to yourself. The accountability comes from operationally defining those recommendations that pass the test of triangulation and submitting your progress in applying them to an objective, trusted third party.


There are a number of important guidelines that any dream yoga can draw from Chinese traditions. They remind us to look for and carefully consider the impact of shamanistic naïve realism on our own practice. They help us sort out prepersonal access to mystical states of unity and integration with transpersonal access to both states and stages of unity and integration. Finally, they can help us to create a model for the integration of our own interior dream yoga with a healing of the social and environmental contexts in which we are embedded. These are not small or trifling gifts, and every student of dream yoga owes these Chinese traditions a huge debt of gratitude. May we live to see the day when the Chinese themselves wake up to the enormous treasure of their heritage for helping all of mankind wake up out of our collective dream.

[1] Not to be confused with dharma as cosmic law. Dharmas in this sense are the fundamental elements that make up sensory objects, but which are not themselves imperishable substances.

[2] Organ, T., Philosophy and the Self: East and West. Associated University Press. P. 136.

[3] Cane, Eulalio Paul. Harmony: Radical Taoism Gently Applied (Trafford Publishing, 2002).

[4] Van Voorst, Robert E. Anthology of World Scriptures (Thomson Wadsworth, 2005).

[5] Girardot, Norman J. Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism: The Themes of Chaos (Hun-Tun) (University of California Press, 1988)

[6] 16. Waley; quoted in Welch, Holmes. Taoism: the Parting of the Way. Boston: Beacon Press, 1965

[7] 1, Roth, Harold. Original Tao: inward training (nei-yeh) and the foundations of Taoist mysticism. Columbia University Press. 1999.

[8] 24, Roth, (1999).

[9] Lee, D. Essential Mysticism in Shamanism and Taoism, , 2012.


[10] 6, Roth, (1999).

[11] 2, Roth

[12] (Lunyu 2.1)

[13] (Lunyu 12.2, 6.30)

[14] (Lunyu 1.3)

[15] (Lunyu 13.27)

[16] However this is by no means meant to imply that Master K’ung did not use concepts like “conscience, ” which are attempts at internal regulation and accountability. IDL does not view “conscience,” “intuition,” “Kingdom of Heaven,” or “higher self” as inner sources of objectivity, as interviewed emerging potentials are, because these concepts are found, upon close examination, to usually be internalized external sources of objectivity rather than innately and authentically alternative perspectives. Or, they may be state realizations that take one perspective on truth and use it to codify both Truth and Reality. However, the Taoist concepts of Teh, the ability of anything to follow its own nature and Yi, the best way of doing things, may come closest in Chinese thought: “The wise man neither deviates from the way inherent in his inner own inner nature nor causes others to stray from the ways of their own inner natures.” “When a tao has teh, then yi prevails. When yi prevails, then a tao has teh. ‘It is by self-activity that all things fulfill themselves. . . . The intelligent man [accepts] each man’s way as best for himself. And he performs the same service for all other beings, for he willingly recognizes that, by following its own nature, each thing does the best that can be done for it.” (Bahm, 1992, p. 27.)

[17] “We usually get into trouble when we forget that yang and yin go together and need each other, and dualistically lock ourselves into either side of a polarity. Confucius goes on to point out that it is “natural for men to be social and that the principles of initiation and completion (yang and yin) permeate human association also in ways that are obvious to anyone who takes the trouble to recognize them.” Archie J. Bahm, A., Confucius, New York: Weatherhill, 1969, reprinted by Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1992. p. 26.

[18] “Opposition is the source of all growth,” said Confucius. “”Oppositeness will continue forever, no matter how many opposites may come and go.” Bahm, A. Tao Teh King, by Lao Tzu, New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1958, p. 15.

[19] One example of this process is the dream sociometric interview of a number of elements associated with the waking nightmare of 9/11, posted on IntegralDeepListening.Com.

[20] The advantages of incumbency create a 90% chance of re-election, meaning term limits are the only rational alternative.

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