Core Concepts of IDL


Core Concepts of Integral Deep Listening


Buddha means “the enlightened or the awakened one.” As such, “Buddha” stands for your awakened, enlightened life in the world. Integral Deep Listening (IDL) views enlightenment as a developmental, ongoing process of awakening rather than a final state of total clarity. The object is to be more awake tomorrow, both asleep and dreaming and awake, than you are today. This is enlightenment. IDL is a dream yoga. All yogas are disciplines whose purpose is such enlightenment, regardless of their religious background or spiritual preferences. Dream yogas view life as a dream; to become lucid within that dream is to wake up within it. IDL emphasizes waking up in your waking identity in your waking life, because that is the self you carry into your dream state, for better or for worse. If you survive death, your assumptions about who you were while you were alive and about the nature of life will most likely impact even after death experience, based on the perceptions of near death experiencers. To wake up in your dreams is not necessarily to be awake in your waking life; however, to wake up in your waking life is also necessarily to be awake in your dreams, because it is with the level of wakefulness of your waking identity that you make sense of your dreams, while you are dreaming.

An AQAL Understanding of Enlightenment

“AQAL” stands for “all states, all lines, all quadrants, all levels, all types, and refers to the integral world view of Ken Wilber. It asks, “What does enlightenment look like not only when awake, but when dreaming, deeply asleep, or on life after death?” “What impact does enlightenment have on other secondary or provisional states, such as trance or shamanic states?” “Is there a separate developmental line for enlightenment, alongside the lines for cognition, empathy, kinesthetic sense, musical ability, communication skills, and so forth? Or is enlightenment the top of all lines? Or is enlightenment an attitude? Or is enlightenment a special, specific state of consciousness? Or is it all of these?” “What does enlightenment look like in the four realms of consciousness, culture, behavior, and relationships?” “Can you have enlightenment at any level of development? If so, what does say, late personal enlightenment look like? What does early transpersonal enlightenment look like?” “Does enlightenment evolve as contexts evolve?”  “Is there a feminine style of enlightenment that is different from a male style?”

Most World Views are Self-Centric


Common Sense world view: Our sense of who we are is anchored in our bodies. Our sense of touch, eyes, ears, and nose told us from birth that we, our waking sense of who we are, are the center of our experience. This is a psychologically geocentric world view, as defensible as was the Ptolemaic world view, by the data of our senses and our cultural surround. However, there exist heliocentric and polycentric world views as well. These are not supported by our senses, but we now know that this is because our senses create a world view that while highly useful, is partial, incomplete, and delusional. As we develop, objectivity increases. With that objectivity, the beliefs and world views that we are most certain about are found to be only relatively true. IDL interviewing puts you in touch with countless perspectives that provide you with first-hand knowledge that your waking sense of self is not the center of reality.  You will directly experience how your common sense world view is psychologically geocentric and not designed to wake you up, but rather to allow you to function well within a sensory definition of who you are. Those who approach dream yoga from a common sense world view believe that they really are experiencing in other dimensions what they dream, that the people and places in their dreams are real and not self-creations. This is the shamanic world view.

Scientific-humanistic world view: The scientific world view is superior to the common-sense world view because it provides greater objectivity. It does so by gathering information from instruments that extend the senses, such as telescopes, microscopes, and electron microscopes and submits that information to the court of reason. Because reason is a form of objectivity that pre-rational belief systems lack, reason and scientific humanism transcend and include common sense and religiously based belief systems. Notice that science and reason do not reject sense data and beliefs as much as filter them through its own way of looking at the world, called the empirical or scientific method. This has three fundamental rules: learn the instructions; test them by following them; validate your results in the court of peers in the method. Wilber describes three varieties of empiricism, sensory, cognitive, and spiritual. The idea that science and reason are not themselves belief systems is nonsense; scientific humanism is itself a belief. Ideally, science transcends and includes the best of pre-rational belief systems. For example, it accepts and uses the sensory reality of the rising and setting of the sun, knowing that what is truth for the body can be encompassed in a broader, non-geocentric perspective. Humanistic perspectives are also superior to the sensory geocentrism of the common sense world view, because they are culturally world-centric. This means that they are pluralistic and egalitarian, extending personal rights to all others. One’s sense of self is expanded to include the well-being of more than members of your family, nationality, and religious affiliation.

Neither the scientific or the humanistic world views are completely free of a geocentric bias. In fact both organize reality in terms of the needs and assumptions of waking identity. Both tend to view themselves as the pinnacle of enlightenment, the state of utopia toward which civilization is growing. However, Wilber’s AQAL  model makes very clear that the scientific and humanistic world views are personal level world views; they are not transpersonal. They are not world views that transcend and include a separate, limited self. Those who approach dream yogas from a scientific-humanistic world view may accept the shamanic view of dreaming, but they add to it a belief that at least some dream and lucid dream experiences are self-creations and that the people and places in dreams and lucid dreams are aspects of self. They often approach the study of their own dreams and lucid dreams empirically.

Deity-centered world view: Since at least Freud, we have known that deities are at least partially projections of our own disowned potentials. While worshiping deities evokes the sacred presence of our emerging potentials, it makes them so “other” that we cannot integrate them. This is a type of heliocentrism or “sun worship,” in which some aspect of the divine is personified and worshipped because it is more powerful than we are.

Theo-, helio-, and monotheistic world views are useful delusions that create dualisms between the sacred and the profane. Wilber identifies three different concepts of God. As ourselves, God is a state of enlightenment or non-dual level of awakening. As a person, we can have a loving, I-Thou personal relationship with God and God in others. As the transcendent Other, the Creator of the Universe, we can stand in awe of the sacredness of our greater identity. These are three types of psychological heliocentrism. We can recognize the first strain in Hindu samadhi and Buddhist nirvana, the second in Jesus as the second element of the Trinity, and the third as Atman which is one with Brahman.

In IDL, interviewed dream characters and personifications of life issues rarely advocate for a theocentric or deity-centered world view.  They rarely talk about God or turn unity and oneness into deity.  This may be because from the perspective of at least some of these interviewed perspectives, there does not seem to be a dualism between the sacred and the profane. Tibetan deity worship, when combined with dream yoga, is one example of pursuing a dream yoga from a deity-centered world view, although most practitioners will tell you these are not real, they are more real than say, Micky Mouse.

Yogic world view: Traditional Hindu yoga names various sorts of disciplined paths to oneness with the divine: karma, or work, yoga, bhakti, or devotional, yoga, jnana, or wisdom yoga, raja, or meditative yoga, kundalini, or breath yoga, hatha, or body yoga, and dream yoga. All of these are viewed as legitimate ways of becoming one with the sacred. These are empirical definitions of reality, injunctive and epistemological rather than ontological. They provide a set of instructions and invite you to test them by following them; you then test your results against the experience of a wise teacher or guru. They do not so much state what is real as much as provide instructions for you to follow to find out for yourself. Those who take up dream yogas from a yogic world view often are interested in developing siddhis or “higher powers,” such as the ability to be lucid while dreaming or during deep sleep or develop abilities they associate with enlightenment.

IDL Dream Yoga and Traditional Dream Yoga 

While traditional dream yogas teach lucid dreaming as a precursor to waking up in all states, IDL dream yoga teaches waking up in one’s waking life as a developmental precursor to waking up in other states.  The first emphasizes lucid dreaming while the second emphasizes lucid living. Again, this is because your degree of waking enlightenment determines your clarity in dreams and lucid dreams, not the other way around.

Buddhist world view: While Western monotheisms emphasize salvation through oneness with God’s law, Buddhism emphasizes salvation through oneness with the Dharma, which is an understanding of universal spiritual law that is non-theistic. While the central concept of divine law in the West is salvation, in Buddhism it is interdependence. IDL does not focus on the teaching and adoption of external value systems like those found in Christianity and Buddhism. It creates a supportive structure and methodology for  finding and following your own unique life compass through identification with the value systems of interviewed dream characters and personifications of life issues important to you, called “emerging potentials,” particularly those that score high in core qualities of being awake, or enlightenment.

Lucid dreaming world view; Lucid dreaming emphasizes a world view of freedom. It says that when you wake up in a dream you are free from the constraints of the physical world and of the moral and ethical constraints of your waking culture and society. You cannot die, and you can escape punishment and the consequences of your actions. Therefore, you are free to attempt miracles or rehearse difficult, fearful waking activities. No failure is real in a lucid dream, because it is clearly seen to only be a self-created dream. People who equate enlightenment with freedom, liberation, and license and who feel limited by their waking circumstances tend to be attracted to lucid dreaming. For these people, the ability to lucid dream is often a mark or shamanic or yogic prowess, a validation of specialness, spirituality, or enlightenment. IDL disagrees, noting that children and criminals can lucid dream. However, lucid dreaming can be experienced from any world view, which means that it can be viewed as magical, practically useful, spiritual or as another level of delusional dreaming.

World views centered on waking identity are narcissistic delusions that create suffering.

Your sense of who you are excludes those perspectives that are not part of who you think you are.  No matter how enlightened you become, this paradox remains the same. Consequently, waking identity is always relatively narcissistic, and its exclusivity and partiality creates suffering.  Grosser forms of suffering, like neurotic depression and addiction to drama, are mitigated as you incorporate into yourself more aspects of an expanded sense of who you are. However, at the same time your sensitivity becomes increasingly refined as you gain increasing objectivity. This means your capacity for experiencing more types of pain more profoundly increases.  An example of this is St. John of the Cross’ “Dark Night of the Soul.” Another is the way some near death experiencers are so blown away that they long for the rapture of life on the other side and live life in a depressed state of separation from the Divine. Because evolution of pain sensitivity is part of the human condition, the continued existence of a perceiver of that pain implies that we have not yet outgrown our identification with our sense of who we are. It is possible however, and indeed the destiny of humanity, to outgrow identification with any one definition of self, and with it, a major precondition for suffering. IDL addresses this issue by providing the opportunity to interview any entity, experience, or feeling in order to expand your sense of who you are through including it. At the same time, this inclusion successively thins your definition of self until you no longer identify with any “real” self, just functional “selves” or “roles” that change based on how light moves through form. In this regard, IDL is a transpersonal practice, like meditation, in that it provides a practical, testable way to transcend your sense of who you are and your psychological geocentrism, that keep you trapped in self-created dream-like delusions.

World Views and the Drama Triangle 

The world view of the Western Allopathic tradition emphasizes Mosaic law, Greek rationalistic dualism, and scientific humanism.  It emphasizes good over evil, right over wrong, Godly over sin and the scientific over other alternative paths.  It tends to identify with the “Good” in the Socratic triune and the rescuer position in the Drama Triangle, because saviors rescue.  IDL dream yoga finds this rescuing Western world view personified by interviewed elements and characters that emphasize and are transformed by compassion and acceptance, aliveness/service and detachment.

The world view of the shamanistic and Chinese traditions emphasizes societal stability and the balancing of natural forces.  It emphasizes harmony over chaos, balance over imbalance, Tao over duality, and loyalty over selfishness.  It tends to identify with the “Beautiful” in the Socratic triune and the victim position in the Drama Triangle, because chaos, the opposite of harmony, is experienced as overwhelming. IDL dream yoga finds this victimizing world view personified  by interviewed elements and characters that emphasize and are transformed by inner peace and witnessing, freedom and clarity.

The world views of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of India emphasize life as illusion as well as enlightenment and liberation.  They emphasize liberation over karma, dharma over personal will, witnessing over subjective immersion in delusion and dream, wisdom over ignorance, and purity over impurity.  They tend to identify with “Wisdom” in the Socratic triune and the persecutor position in the Drama Triangle, because perfection and dharma, or universal law, tend to be perceived as limiting free will and freedom and therefore as persecutors. IDL dream yoga finds this persecuting world view personified  by interviewed elements and characters that emphasize and are transformed by wisdom and confidence, balance and wakefulness

The Nature of Reality as Disclosed by Integral Deep Listening

When emerging potentials are interviewed, whether they are dream or lucid dream characters, waking life events of people, or the personifications of waking life issues, they express opinions that reflect their world view, not yours.  If enough are interviewed, you begin to observe patterns of agreement, just as you can back away from a forest, puzzle, quilt, or a painting and observe meanings and connections that were previously hidden, due to your subjective enmeshment with trees, puzzle pieces, individual quilt squares, or individual painting elements.  This is the phenomena of “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” Getting the observations of a number of blind perspectives is generally going to lead to a more complete picture than the observation of only one. While such world views based on multiple perspectives are not the only, nor are they the best, meanings and perspectives on reality, they offer significant improvements. Gaining the ability to take such perspectives provides a flexibility, adaptability, and informed decision making that is unavailable to those who cannot or do not have access to them. This is a major advantage of practicing IDL as a dream yoga: you will make better decisions as you become more objective; you will get out of your own way as your perspective broadens and thins.

The reality disclosed by IDL is polycentric, multi-perspectival, and holographic. It is polycentric, in that you discover that whatever perspective you take, regardless how imaginary or absurd it is, is at that time the center of your experience. It is multi-perspectival in that you discover that the creativity and therapeutic value of innumerable possible perspectives is unlimited. It is holographic in that you discover that regardless of what perspective you take it is the center of the universe, yet can be used to access any and all other perspectives. The transpersonal reality disclosed by IDL lacks a self-sense or permanent selves but does possess processes and qualities that appear to transcend and include selves. This reality is also transpersonal because it transcends and includes both belief and reason.  Belief for IDL involves the suspension of disbelief in the phenomenological method used in its interviewing process, but only during interviews. Afterward one is invited to be as skeptical as they desire.  The IDL itself is rational in that it is an empirically testable methodology.

Integral Deep Listening exposes a polycentric, interdependent world view in which no perspective is privileged over another.

When you become this or that emerging potential, it is the center of the universe.  Its perspective is  experienced as the real, authentic, valid, and appropriate perspective at that moment.  When you interview many dream characters and personifications of life issues you discover that all are valid, given the premises from which they see the world, regardless of whether or not they are imaginary or not.  This is called aperspectivalism.  This multiplicity of valid, authentic perspectives creates a sense of self analogous to a diamond, with each facet throwing light in a unique and ever-changing way, with no facet privileged over any other, yet the one on which you are currently focused relatively “real” in comparison to the others.

The most inclusive perspectives do not differentiate between dreaming and waking experience, true and false, real and illusory, just and unjust, good and bad.

You and I need to differentiate between all of these things because we need to test reality in terms of person, place, and time.  We need rules to govern ourselves and our relationships with each other. You need to know who you are and who and what these other people and things are around you.  You need to know where you are, the century you are living in and what day it is.  You need to know when it’s time for lunch and where the food is. The thought of doing without these basic grounding conditions is either inconceivable or highly uncomfortable for most. They are required to develop and maintain your sense of self. However, life itself doesn’t require any of these things, as is demonstrated by the routine disregard of person, place, and time in dreams.  Consequently, to approach life from a perspective that reflects the priorities of life, remember that these fundamental and critical distinctions are arbitrary, created by predictable changes in biological states and out of a need to maintain a stable waking sense of self in order to adapt to physical and social demands in the waking world. As you outgrow your need to be someone, you will find these basic grounding conditions and the dualities they impose less important.

Injunctive processes are emphasized by IDL more than the via positiva or via negativa because it involves an empirical, testable method.

An injunctive method is empirical. It says, “In order to get that, do this…”  Yogas are injunctive processes. An example from IDL is, “In order to learn to meditate, become high-scoring emerging potentials.” Following such instructions is emphasized by IDL exemplifies how it is not based on faith or authority, but on a repeatable methodology that you can test for yourself.  However, there are aspects of a second basic approach, the via positiva in IDL. The via positiva does not provide instructions but instead pronouncements about what is and is not real. For instance, it says God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. An example of the via positiva in IDL is the claim that your dreams can help you heal, balance, and transform or that practicing deep listening to your emerging potentials is helpful. Another example is the claim that both dream characters and external reality are at least in part emerging potentials  There are also aspects of the via negativa in IDL. The via negativa views the ultimate as ineffable, or inexpressible in language. Therefore, it only says what reality is not. IDL uses the via negativa when it avoids most common metaphysical terminology, such as “spirit,” “God” and “soul” and refuses to pronounce judgment on the independent or self-created reality of beings that visit in dreams.

The Nature of life

What is the source of life for Earth?  Essentially, it is the sun.  All the matter that makes up your physical body, the Earth and all its forms, originated in the great gas cloud that condensed into the sun and its solar system. However, all elements heavier than oxygen, such as the potassium in a banana, originated in a supernova far more ancient than our sun. The light of the sun falls on all parts of the Earth that are exposed to it.  The sun does not care whether clouds block its light or if too much sunlight makes it impossible for things to grow.  The sun would not be affected if Earth and all its creatures ceased to exist.  It would continue to be itself.

So it is with life. IDL reveals life as so selfless that it transcends and includes all feelings and all preferences.  It is too invested in its own existence to be fickle and to change its course based on the immediate needs of humans.  To do so would be to fail to provide the steady light, love, and presence that feeds all of creation. Life is too universal in its abundance to be concerned about our mundane affairs, nor does it need to be. Such objectivity and disinterest is a good and necessary thing. If the sun were affected by human actions, as some sources believe, it would surrender the objectivity it needs to be a dependable source of radiant energy.  It is positively grandiose to think that the sun generates more or less sunspots based on human action or that planets and stars change their course or brightness based on how someone behaves. Contrary to what most of us were taught in our birth religions and also by most of the sacred teachings of history, life does care whether or not you get a sunburn or die in the desert. Life does not care whether you live or die. Similarly, the air around us does not care whether it is taken in by a criminal or a saint, a snail, an oak leaf, or a porpoise.  The universe does not care whether galaxies collide.  While this may sound like a nihilistic, uncaring, meaningless approach to life, it is not. A lack of caring is not the same as a lack of outrageous abundance.  A lack of emotional involvement is not the same as meaninglessness.

One way life continuously expresses its presence is in your breathing as seven octaves of enlightenment that echo the evolution of human consciousness. Octave one is purely sensory, the six stages of every breath, abdominal inhalation, chest inhalation, the pause after inhalation, chest exhalation, abdominal exhalation and the pause after exhalation. Octave two involves six fundamental life processes, awakening, aliveness, balance, detachment, freedom, and clarity. Octave three involves  six discrete qualities, confidence, empathetic, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing. They are correlated with life becoming aware of itself and waking up to itself. The more awake you are the more transparent you become. This means that the less afraid, the more empathetic, the more wise, accepting, at peace, and witnessing you become, the more freely and fully life is able to experience itself through you.  Life wants you to wake up so that you will disappear in any disruptive sense, which is what happens as you cultivate the six core qualities and processes.  The more awake and transparent you become the more life is able to become aware of itself through you. This is why every IDL interview contains questions involving these six core qualities. Octave four involves six varieties of transformational affect, abundance, joy, awareness, cosmic humor, trans-rationality and luminosity. Octave five involves six stages of devotional affirmation. Octave seven involves six types of self-emptying: sensory, emotional, cognitive, visual, consciousness and the absence of no-self. Octave seven transcends dualism by approaching the act of breathing from the perspective of life itself, which does not differentiate between breather and breath or among stages of breathing.

Consequently, IDL dream yoga is not primarily about human evolution, lucid dreaming, or spiritual discipline. It is primarily about dissolving limited definitions of self which block the awakening of life to itself.  IDL is about learning to look at your life from the perspective of life.

Benefits of Interviewing

Becoming the perspectives of interviewed emerging potentials broadens your understanding of life. The conclusions you draw teach you how life views you.  You learn which quadrants you prefer – behavioral, relationships, belief systems, or the development of your interior consciousness – and which you neglect so that you can balance them in order to transform, awaken, become lucid and move into greater enlightenment. You learn what level of development most closely reflects your center of gravity, and which lines of your development are strongest and weakest.  To no longer ignore, repress, or discount the perspectives of internal sources of objectivity, such as are accessed by IDL interviewing, is to stop impoverishing yourself and retarding your own development. It is to discover where and how you are stuck in your development.

Life as Self-Created Dream

While IDL is not a form of idealism, in that it believes that there is a reality distinct from your perception of it, it also recognizes that your perception of reality is predetermined and conditioned by your physical, mental, cultural, and social filters. Things don’t go away just because you close your eyes. However, what you know of others, your world, and yourself is subjectively conditioned by your social and cultural scripting, by your language, and by the very categories by which your mind structures information, as Kant demonstrated some three-hundred years ago.  These contexts create a secure structure upon which to build your identity and life.  The Buddhist formulation is that things and people lack bhava, “own-being,” or the ability to exist independently of other people and things. Autonomy, independence, and separate existence is inevitably conditioned by other factors, meaning that objective reality is never absolute, but only relative. This awareness is very important, because it is a step away from the naive realism of pre-personal experience, in which things really are as they seem: the sun rises and sets, people in dreams are real, natural catastrophes are persecution by forces personally intent on punishing us. If such concrete and literal understandings of life are not shed, they create a secure prison that eventually suffocates us to death.

Your innate and automatic conditioning filters determine not only what you pay attention to, but whether it is meaningful or not. They also determine what options are available to you if you decide something is meaningful. In all these ways your life is indeed a self-created dream, and one that is killing you. A major part of waking up out of that dream is to recognize your various filters and objectify yourself from them. This does not mean eliminating your filtering beliefs, assumptions, expectations, and responses, because they have adaptive and survival functions. It means being able to set them aside when desired, like a pair of glasses with colored lenses, to be able to evaluate the world independently of them. You can then put them back on when and if you want. If you wear special goggles that turn everything you see upside down, within a few days your brain will self-correct and turn everything right side up again, even though you continue to wear the goggles. Similarly, if you go to a place, meet a soulmate, or join a religion that turns all your assumptions about life upside down, and in a sense frees you from them, within a short period of time you will turn that place, soulmate, and religion into places, people, and experiences that validate your assumptions, perceptions, and delusions. This is why external change usually does not free you from your self-created dreams. It is also why lucid dreaming usually does not and cannot free you from your self-created dreams.

IDL works to enhance your awareness of your filters by putting you in touch with perspectives that are legitimate and authentic, yet do not share them. This does not mean that they are free of filtering, only that they do not share one or more of your own. IDL works to help you eliminate those filters by encouraging you to practice looking at your life in specific recommended circumstances from the perspective of relatively filter-free potentials. In time you acclimate to perspectives that involve less filtering and less delusion. The result is that your life is less of a self-created dream and you become more awake, more lucid, and more enlightened.

Understanding that life is real, yet functionally a self-created dream, is a statement of emotional and mental maturity.  It reflects an individual who is confident and self-assured enough to handle ambiguity and a constantly shifting sense of self.  Those who are threatened by this concept misrepresent it. They hear it as a denial of the external world rather than for what it is: an acceptance of the obvious.

You can only know in others those qualities and characteristics that you project onto them.

To say that you create your world is not to deny its objective reality.  It is simply to recognize that all you can know of me, all you can understand of these words, is dependent on your past experience and the factors that condition your perception.  As you recognize that reality, you gain the ability to both outgrow your limiting preferences as well as to identify with perspectives that are less dreamlike and more real, because they represent the consensus dream of a broader cross-section of your greater identity.

Everything is best seen as a wake-up call.

Whether you interview a dream, a waking life issue, a waking object or being, an entity from a near death experience, a physical pain, or a past-life memory, interviewed emerging potentials tend to state that their purpose is to help you wake up.  “Waking up” means to consider this or that experience from a perspective or perspectives that transcend and include your own, and to incorporate that new, expanded perspective, into your own.


Dreaming, as normally experienced, is regressive in at least three areas: 

When you are dreaming, you are in a delusional state in that you think you are awake. Because you think you are awake, you think you are your waking identity.  However, your identity while dreaming, which IDL refers to as your “dream self,” is a surrogate of your waking identity. It interprets dream events as you do, yet your waking identity cannot fall from great heights without injury, die and resurrect, or turn into other people or animals, as your dream self can.

This is important because your waking self chronically misperceives both dream reality and dream events. Consequently, it makes incorrect interpretations of dream experience, resulting in poor choices and inappropriate or unnecessary types of emotional reactivity. The classical example is your response to a dream monster. Because you think you are awake, your perceive the threat as real, when it is not. Consequently, you not only react in unnecessary ways by running or fighting, but cause yourself to feel fear when there is no threat.

It is regressive to think you are awake when you are asleep and dreaming because you are moving into subjectivity that not only is a life-long habit, but is destructive to your health, in that you move into fight or flight, general adaptation syndrome, responses unnecessarily, which has real consequences for your physical and mental-emotional health.

The second way in which dreaming is normally regressive is that you think you are dealing with objectively real others when you are not.  This is regressive because you are externalizing or disowning something that is yours. You are giving your power away, disempowering yourself, and moving yourself into the role of victim in the Drama Triangle.

The third way in which dreaming is normally regressive is that you think you have no choice but to dream the dream. It moves ahead under the power of the congruence of its script. Like watching a movie, you could get up and leave the theater, but you don’t. You are entrapped by the story, which has its own internal validity, regardless of how delusional it actually is. We see this acted out on the national level when nations pursue obviously self-destructive policies, such as austerity economics or burning dirty carbon-based fuels. Delusions possess their own logic and inertia.

All three of these misperceptions are delusions; movement into delusional states is regressive. Both your waking view toward dreaming as well as your experience of dreams while you are dreaming is more or less delusional to the extent that these three conditions apply.

Fortunately, this does not mean that dreaming itself is regressive, only that human perception of them normally is. IDL wakes you up out of these delusions.

Because dreaming is regressive for waking identity, you normally undo much of your waking progress while dreaming.

Because you experience your dreams in a delusional, regressed way, you misperceive what is happening in your dreams.  Because you do so, you reach wrong conclusions which activate the fight or flight response and undermine your physical and mental health.  If you went to an inspirational workshop or saw a therapist today, you would feel better. You would probably go to sleep tonight feeling better. However, because of these three delusions that you operate under when you are dreaming, it is likely that most of your improved mood will not survive intact through the night.  Its potency will be diminished while you are dreaming tonight by submersion in regressive drama and self-created delusion. Are you more or less likely to awaken in the morning feeling worse than when you went to sleep? Are you more or less likely to have slid a bit backward into your old comfortable stuck self?

The state of dreaming itself is not regressive; it is the perception of the state by waking identity that is regressive.

Just because your delusional dream self misperceives what is going on in a dream it does not follow that the dream itself is a delusion or that it is regressive.  Do the other characters in your dreams tonight think they are not part of a dream?  Do they think that they are real in the sense that your waking self assumes it is real?  Do they think that you have no choice but to see them as you do?  For the most part, the answer is either, “I don’t know, because I have never asked them,” or simply “no.”  When you interview your emerging potentials you will usually discover that dreams are perceived in very different ways from the delusion-based assumptions you make about them, both while you are dreaming and when you wake up and think about it.  This is true of your waking life as well. Most of your emerging potentials will not see either your dreaming or waking lives in ways that are nearly as delusional and regressive as you do.  So who is dreaming?  Who is more awake, you or your interviewed emerging potentials?

Your body can’t tell the difference between waking and dreaming perceptions.

When you are dreaming your body is paralyzed so it will not act out your dreams while you are asleep.  However, that does not keep you from assuming that snakes, monsters, fires, and falls in dreams are real events, causing your body to enter what Hans Selye called the General Adaptation Syndrome.  This means that it pumps out adrenaline and other catecholamines that can be so strong that they mimic a heart attack.  These powerful hormones are meant to be metabolized through fight or flight, but while dreaming they continue to sit in cells like battery acid, slowly wearing down and wearing out the systems you need to survive. This happens because your body is paralyzed; there is no physiological activation of the central nervous system in order to work these toxins out of your cells. This failure occurs whether or not you remember the dream.  If it happens night after night, what do you think the result is likely to be for your physical health?

Dreams are Best Understood as Wake-Up Calls.  

Interviewed dream characters will often state that they exist to wake you up and that this was the fundamental purpose of the dream.  Consequently, IDL suggests that this be your default assumption not only about the meaning of your dreams but about life itself. If so, it leads to obvious questions: “What is this wake-up call telling me?” “How can I act on this wake-up call in ways that will respect it and make it unnecessary in the future?”

If you miss dream wake-up calls they get louder and externalize.

Ignored dreams get louder, which means that they become more emotionally intense and threatening.  Unheeded dream themes are more likely to become nightmares if the underlying life issue has not been resolved.   If these nightmares and repetitive dreams are ignored, are they more or less likely to externalize as physical health issues, waking drama, interpersonal problems, “bad luck,” or “accidents?”  This is not to imply that all such events are missed wake-up calls, only that this is a fruitful way to conceptualize them.

Dream stress undermines waking development through the intrusion of regressive emotional tone.  Therefore, the reduction of dream stress is important to growth.

Dream stress is primarily caused by the chronic misperception of dream events by dream self.  Dreams are probably not intrinsically regressive or stress inducing; it is the misperception of them by the dreamer while dreaming that makes them so. If you want to reduce dream stress and its consequences for your waking life, you need to first learn to dialogue with your emerging potentials while you are awake and then take that ability into your dreams. This is functional lucid dreaming; this is a type of waking up, both in your waking life and while dreaming, that improves life and supports development.

In terms of anxiety level and depression, the consequences of the fight-or flight syndrome are similar for waking and dreaming.  

When you get stressed and activate the sympathetic branch of your autonomic system you move into fight or flight. First, you actively resist; then, if resistance does not work, you move into a chronic survival mode. If that fails, you move into exhaustion mode, typified by a seeming revival in one last attempt to overcome your circumstances. When this fails, your weakest physical system goes first. If you are already hypoglycemic, you may be encouraging your pancreas to flip over into hyperglycemia, or type II diabetes. If you have a predisposition toward depression or anxiety, dream stressors such as nightmares amplify those emotional over-reactions, diminishing the quality not only of your waking life but your ability to make healthy decisions for yourself and those that you love.  The fact that your body can’t tell the difference between waking and dreaming perceptions means that what you do in your dreams tonight is going to affect your physical and mental health tomorrow – whether or not you remember any of them.  If that is the case, doesn’t it make sense to listen to what they are saying to you?  Doesn’t it make sense to stop misperceiving what is happening to you while you are dreaming?

Lucid Dreaming is Not a Requirement for health

While delusional reactions to misperceived stressors is regressive and unhealthy, what is important is not that you become lucid but that you stop such delusional reactions. You can do so by simply learning how to recognize and stay out of the drama triangle and by no longer personalizing experience. If you learn these two skill sets in your daily life not only will the quality of your life improve; you will be much less likely to fall into drama or to personalize in your dreams, whether or not you remember them and whether or not you are lucid. This is much more valuable and of practical benefit than becoming aware in a dream that you are dreaming, because you can do so and still be stuck in drama or personalize.

Misery, Suffering, and Karma are Therefore Optional.  

When you listen to wake up calls is drama in your life and dreams more or less likely to be reduced? Are you more or less likely to have accidents, get sick, have bad luck, or have either waking or dreaming nightmares? Are you more or less likely to get along better with others and attain your goals? Are you more or less likely to have good luck and experience “magic” in your life? “Magic” is defined as being in the right place at the right time in order to say and do that which awakens the highest in others and yourself.

For those for whom karma is an important concept, how is the process of listening to wake-up calls by interviewing emerging potentials and acting on their recommendations likely to affect it? To take two examples, both reincarnation, as envisioned in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and our response to near death experience life reviews, are dependent upon how we perceive our lives and what meanings we project onto our history, just as what we do with our night time dreams.  This is the mechanism for the transmission of karma. If you change the meanings that you assign your life dream by viewing it from different perspectives, you wake up to new meanings that transcend and include your previous, more limited and painful interpretations. This is a movement from karma to grace, a disidentification with inter-life drama.

How you treat others is how you are treating those aspects of yourself that they represent.

If you don’t understand what it means that the way you treat others is how you treat the aspect of yourself that they represent, you’ve just admitted that you’re functioning at a pretty low level. Anyone who claims to be on any sort of spiritual path, whether new ager, evangelical, mystic, psychic, or devout follower of ecological and human justice, but who does not understand and follow this principle in their own lives is grossly overestimating their level of development. You cannot be at healthy late personal without “getting” this, much less at transitional or on any transpersonal level of development.

But there’s hope. If you want to grow quickly, there are few ways that are quicker and more powerful than grasping and consistently applying this core concept.  Doing IDL interviews allows you to experience the truth of it, not simply to cognitively grasp it, which is  not enough.

Of all the benefits of working with one’s dreams, attaining this realization is probably the most important, because it represents a major ethical achievement, significant growth in empathy, and a serious movement away from personalization. Why is it such a difficult concept for people to grasp? If one understands it, why is it so difficult to act on the basis of it? What is it about humanity that keeps us chronically adept at ignoring, justifying, denying, rationalizing, avoiding, and fighting to not see, accept, and apply this simple, life changing key to maturity?

The main reason that most people maintain the convenient conceit that they can think and feel and act in any way that they like toward others without any consequences – as long as they don’t get caught – is that they have never taken their dreams seriously. It doesn’t matter that dreams cause nightmares; it doesn’t matter that they spend some eight years of their life dreaming if they live to be eighty; it doesn’t matter that there are powerful implications for depression, anxiety, and mental health for unaddressed, chronic disturbing dreams.  It’s obviously better to repress what we don’t understand.  Looking at the uncomfortable and bizarre world of dreams doesn’t help us pay our bills and raise our kids.  However, those who do so and pay attention to what is going on when they are dreaming learn several things. First, they realize that their dreams are mostly self-creations, which means that everything and everyone in them are functionally aspects of themselves. Secondly, that how they treat people in their dreams is how they are treating those aspects of themselves that those people represent. If you hate someone in a dream you are hating that part of yourself. If you’re scared of a monster in your dream you are not only scaring yourself; you are scared of yourself. Think about that. Is that wise? Is that healthy? What level of development would you say that a person was on if they continuously scared themselves when they were awake? Third, as we have seen, because they believe that they are awake when they are dreaming, this delusion has powerful consequences. Their bodies physiologically respond as if they were awake; they reinforce reactive emotions and delusional beliefs. Fourth, functionally life is a dream, in that you never know anyone; you only know your mental conception of them. You only know who you think that they are, and you are almost always badly mistaken about that.  Consequently, you move through your life shadow-boxing with aspects of yourself, with your own mental representations. How you treat others is how you are treating yourself.

Once you thoroughly understand this principle you can no longer do what most people do: follow the golden rule because of some religious teaching and then continue to sell out in your waking life by working for people, businesses, corporations, or nations that treat others in ways you would not want to be treated. Signs that you get this core realization are first and foremost elimination of any behaviors associated with the Drama Triangle.  You no longer blame yourself or others and so move out of you the role of persecutor. You recognize that when you persecuting yourself or others it is because you either don’t realize it, don’t care, or can’t stop. You are tired of announcing that you are functioning on an early personal level of development at best and much more likely mid prepersonal. You no longer seek rescuing by money, love, or some savior because you understand that to do so sets you up to experience the delights of self-persecution and victimization. You are tired of wasting your time feeling helpless, powerless, and victimized.  You want to grow, not just pretend that you are.

Which would you rather do, downstream crisis intervention or upstream prevention?

When you do IDL interviewing and application in response to a crisis you will receive responses that focus on long-term prevention.  While you are focused on eliminating the present problem, life is focused on you hearing the wake-up call it represents so that the crisis doesn’t need to repeat.  Rather than providing a temporary band-aid, IDL gives you the tools to avoid future crises.  Which do you prefer?

Waking identity rarely consults its broader intrasocial community.

Your “intrasocial community” is made up of the various roles you take in your waking life as well as roles that you have taken in the past and that lie dormant. Most importantly, it includes the perspectives personified as interviewed emerging potentials. If this concept is new to you, take it as an indication of the priorities of human culture. It focuses on creating and strengthening a unitary sense of self; the idea that you are not unitary but multiple is instinctively experienced as threatening to many, because it implies ambiguity, confusion, distraction, and above all, lack of control. But it is exactly over-control by waking identity that is at the heart of the majority of  both human psychopathology and social nightmares, such as war, famine, terrorism, and greed. The majority of people think they manage their lives just fine without having to take the time to listen to emerging potentials.  They are not convinced that anything of real value to themselves and their lives will justify the time and effort. Many others believe that they do so, calling it consulting their intuition, conscience, “higher self” through prayer or meditation. However, how could they be consulting their broader intrasocial community if they use their intuition to validate their waking biases, meditation to avoid listening to themselves or taking action in the world?

Seeing dreams as symbolic usually projects preconceived meanings onto them rather than listening to them

There is a place and a time for studying symbology and applying them to dreams, however it has little to do with learning to deeply listen to yourself. Viewing dreams as symbolic is an excellent strategy if you want to find what someone else thinks they might mean or if you are primarily interested in having your own biases, beliefs, and fears validated. The problem is either that someone who doesn’t know you is telling you your truth or that your stuck self is telling you what it thinks. The first choice is like asking a dog for the time; the second is like talking to a drunk.

Is not labeling a dream character a symbol both projective and discounting? When there is a predetermination about what some dream character really means, projection is happening. For example, if you dream about the sun, is it about light, heat, life, or something else entirely? How do you know?

In addition labeling a dream character a symbol is a discount because it reduces a dream person or a thing to what it represents to someone else, which says nothing about how it experiences itself. To understand this concept just ask yourself, “Is my worth, value, and the meaning of my life based on what I symbolize to others?” Most people will answer, “No; the worth, value, and  meaning of my life is intrinsic; they are not secondary to or dependent upon what others think about me.” If we are going to take seriously the principle that as we treat our dream characters we are so treating the aspects of ourselves that they represent, then we do not discount their worth by making it secondary to some symbolic interpretation. To find out what is the worth or value of a dream character or what is meaningful for it, you have to stop interpreting and listen to how that character interprets its own experience.

Individual dreams emphasize either healing, balance, and transformation or some combination of them. 

Get in the habit of asking yourself, after you have finished an interview, “Does this dream address healing, balancing, or transformation in my life? If so, how? What you will probably find is that most dreams end up being rich resources for all three, when they are listened to and allowed to interpret themselves, instead of doing what we normally do: force them to validate our own expectations and preconceived ideas.

The gift of dreaming is to provide objectivity 

This gift is mostly wasted because waking identity does the interpreting both during the dream and afterward. Objectivity, or witnessing, is one of the six core qualities associated with the round of each breath and which are essential to waking up and enlightenment. Dreams are paradoxical, in that they are a subjective source of objectivity. They are subjective in that they are internally generated. They are objective in that they provide perspectives on ourselves and our lives that are largely and typically independent from our own.

A phenomenological approach to dreamwork combined with a sociometric methodology reveals an intrasocial reality. 

In order to see certain realities, you need certain tools.  To fully understand and appreciate the place of Earth in the heavens the telescope first had to be invented. To develop a microbial theory of disease the microscope first had to be invented.  In order to perceive and appreciate the intrasocial dimension of human experience, IDL combines phenomenological and sociometric methodologies. The suspension of waking assumptions about the source, nature, purpose, and usefulness of dream characters is an indication of a phenomenological approach to dreamwork in particular and life in general.  By using a phenomenological methodology IDL creates an open focus approach to life, in which respect and trust replace projection and fear.

Lucid dreaming, despite its ability to awaken us to new potentials for growth, freedom, and creativity, can amplify narcissism while extending waking power and control into the dream state.  As such, it tends to be a form of psychological colonialism. 

Dream lucidity may move your waking sense of control and freedom to a broader level, regardless of what level of development  you are on. But what about the evolution of your dream consciousness? Your dreams are comprised of interacting elements reflecting early to mid prepersonal levels of group development. We know this because dream groups lack a unified self sense that only appears at the late pre-personal stage of development. There is only the self sense of you in the dream and that of other personalities in the dream. There is no unified dream sense of self. At best, dream lucidity moves dream consciousness from early and mid prepersonal to late prepersonal by the imposition of a unified self sense on the group by your self, with the knowledge that it is dreaming.  If you wish to evolve dream consciousness beyond this, as opposed to developing your waking identity and self lines, you have to form an early personal consensual social relationship with other parts of your internal community.  Meditation is a great help in doing so; interviewing emerging potentials speeds that process up.

Waking nightmares, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, and societal nightmares, such as wars, are best viewed as the externalization of ignored wake-up calls.  They may be interviewed sociometrically just like any dream.   

IDL theorizes that waking nightmares are wake-up calls that need to be listened to, not fought or repressed.  To test this theory we need to learn a method that allows us to hear what waking nightmares are saying to us.  Both IDL interviewing and Dream Sociometry are powerful ways of understanding both personal and societal nightmares as wake-up calls.

Waking Identity 

Psychological geocentrism is your default life position. It does not go away because you learn empathy or compassion or practice egalitarianism and pluralism. By doing these things you have expanded your sense of self to include others but reality still orbits around you and your perceptions, regardless of how altruistic you are. Notice that this statement is true for Thoreau, Gandhi, King, Mother Theresa, and Mandela. If you read Rumi and the work of other mystics, you will notice this principle holds for them as well. Historically, psychological geocentrism has been the stance of true believers, rationalistic humanists, and mystics.  Mystics experience their dissolution of identity within nature, deity, or formlessness as something that happens to them and which they perceive and interpret from their waking identity.  Consequently, while they may indeed possess a God-centered, “heliocentric” world view, it is still centered on their sense of self, their waking identity, which is now their immortal soul or Atman, one with God, All, or Brahman. This is a soul-based version of geocentrism.

The facts of life confirm and support the delusion that your identity orbits around your waking sense of self. Why? Because humans normally do not perceive any data that disputes this conclusion.  On the contrary, it is constantly validated, rather like the rising and setting of the sun constantly validates geocentrism for your physical senses. Unless there is a dialogue with other perspectives that are subjective, yet not psychologically geocentric, development remains an autocratic and totalitarian affair. It does not reflect a consensus course based on the consideration of the preferences of other, broader, aspects of an identity that is not psychologically geocentric.

Your waking identity is who you think you are, whether asleep or dreaming.  

As indicated above, you are trapped in the world view or perceptual framework of your waking identity.  This term is not synonymous with ego.  Your ego can be transparent and you will still see the world from the perspective of your waking identity.  You can dissolve your ego entirely without ever choosing to share control and power with one other emerging potential or member of your intrasocial community, awake or dreaming. Your waking identity is synonymous with your sense of “self.” As long as you think you are somebody, that is, have a “self,” whether you define it as ego, self, Self, Atman, higher self, cosmic consciousness, everybody, all sentient beings, or God, your perspective is psychologically geocentric. Your sense of who you are, as an entity, is defined as that thing or reality, and everything and everyone revolves around you. This is what IDL refers to as your “waking identity.”

Your waking identity is partial.  It becomes a tragic source of suffering to the extent that it does not consult other legitimate perspectives.

Because your waking identity is a subset of the larger contexts in which it is embedded, it is and always will remain partial.  This partiality is in relationship to larger external contexts, such as the external social-cultural contexts of enlightenment, as well as larger internal contexts, such as the intrasocial and intracultural contexts of enlightenment.  It is not a nicety to consult macro- and microcosmic perspectives; it is a necessity to consult both, although most people limp along by consulting only external sources of objectivity – their parents, teachers, bosses, friends, and “experts.” Waking identity continuously incorporates consulted perspectives as it grows, only to find itself in a broader context.  Regardless of how evolved waking identity becomes, its responsibility is to consult with and internalize those broader contexts.  If it does so externally and not internally, it can evolve externally; there will be a tetra-mesh for the self in its evolution in the world, that is, there will be growth in behavior, social interaction, values, and consciousness.  However, the more transparent waking identity becomes, the more it is required to consult internal perspectives and to tetra-mesh with them.  Mystics have shown that one can reach the causal and the non-dual, at least as state acquisition, without doing so.  You can repress and deny the perspectives of your internal community and become an enlightened waking identity.  What you won’t accomplish, however, is integration with intrasocial and microcosmic sources of objectivity, because they haven’t been consulted.  That means you will not thin and expand your sense of self in ways that are dictated by the priorities of your life compass. Such disidentification with the self doesn’t happen magically, because you meditate so many hours a day for so many years or because you have many fans who believe you are God.

Most people, including most spiritual masters, do not consult subjective sources of objectivity; they merely assume that they do and that they know what interviewed emerging potentials would tell them. But considerable data shows that people are lousy at predicting what they will be told in an interview. This is extremely easy to verify. IDL has identified gurus, long-time meditators and spiritual leaders, so it has a data base on which to base this claim. All one has to do is, before any interview, write what they think they will be told. This is generally done with dream interviews as associations. Then, after the interview, all one has to do is go back and compare what they have been told and what they thought the meaning of the dream was or the solution to their life issue would be. Gurus and ascended masters are as bad at this as anyone else because, by definition, these interviewed perspectives include, yet transcend the level of consciousness, including the wisdom, knowledge, compassion, and witnessing attained by waking identity. There is no replacement for interviewing emerging potentials that are not identified with your waking identity, regardless of how highly developed you think that you are.  If this is not done, at some point your development will come to a screeching halt. Why will it stop? Because you think you have all the answers and that you have “arrived.” You then stop looking, listening, and learning. The yoga of IDL keeps people from indulging in this delusion, regardless of their level of development.

Ken Wilber has described these tragic sources of suffering for those who have attained energic (psychic), saintly, sage, or non-dual levels of awareness but have not dissolved their sense of self. (Cite Wilber on spiritual psychopathology as well as my version in Integral Deep Listening and Healing.)

Waking identity rarely consults its broader intrasocial community.

As stated above, people rarely consult their broader intrasocial community because they lack the necessary skill set. They have never learned how. Then, the majority of those who do learn to do so find that their addiction to their waking preferences makes interviewing a low priority. Such is the all-consuming nature of psychological geocentrism.  If you are “normal,” you think you manage your life just fine without having to take the time to listen to emerging potentials.  You are not convinced that anything of real value to yourself and your life will come that will justify the time and effort. It may be that you believe that you do so and call it consulting your intuition, but, because it is mostly an internalization of external sources of objectivity, it conveniently validates your world view.

Therefore, your waking identity rarely represents the interests of your life compass.  

This is why it is difficult for people to develop beyond the personal levels. It is relatively easy to develop an altruistic, compassionate self-sense. All that is really required are good role models, a nurturing environment, and permission to do so. This normally culminates in secular liberalism, which recognizes, respects, and fights for universal human rights. Notice that religions have traditionally either not done so, been at cross-purposes with these values, in that they have attempted to justify war, slavery, and patriarchy, or tried and failed to abolish these crimes against humanity. Slavery, female equality, the abolition of war, protection for gender choices, and the elimination of child abuse have not become social realities because of religion, but because of the evolution of increasing number of humans away from religion and to a sense of self that is late personal. However, late personal development is still psychological geocentrism. Yes, it is a tremendous accomplishment for any individual and for humanity as a whole. However, when individuals and nations reach this level of functioning, problems and conflicts do not magically go away. As long as people do not interview emerging potentials they misinterpret or ignore wake-up calls because they do not adopt perspectives that understand and can successfully communicate why a particular wake up call is coming to them, now. The consequence is that they remain in conflict with themselves. These conflicts externalize as misperceptions of the intentions of others. In addition, we remain disconnected from important sources of innate creative potential that are required in order to continue to develop.  At any developmental stage you pay a huge price for choosing to stay comfortable in your habitual waking delusion that says that you are handling your life just fine.

As a consequence, waking identity is generally working against its broader interests although it is generally certain that it represents them. 

How could waking identity not be working against its broader interests if it has no idea what they are?  How could it know what they are if it never consults or listens to emerging potentials?  It thinks that listening to itself, respected others, and reading books is all it needs to do to be informed as to its broader interests. This is the common mistake of the entitled, from monarchs to CEOs to mystics and gurus to parents; they are sure that they both know and represent the needs and the wants of the governed and that therefore they do not need to consult with their own emerging potentials.  This is both ignorant and arrogant.  It is not sufficient to say it is human nature; past basic, hard-wired psychomotor skills such as walking and talking, humans have to be taught how to grow. Without a methodology that differentiates emerging potentials from intuition, conscience, and “God’s will,” you will follow internalized cultural scripting and think it’s your own.

Your waking identity resists valuing or listening to other emerging potentials because it is by nature asleep, dreamwalking, immature, and threatened by power sharing.

This position is not cynical, pessimistic, or even self-critical although it probably sounds that way; it is realistic. This is the default position that IDL recommends that you take toward your own waking biases, but without guilt or self-criticism, which never make anything better.  You can trust yourself to turn off the alarm clock and not record a dream or, if you do, to discount its meaning; if you do interview a dream, to then not follow recommended life changes.  Who you think you are is the world view that you have at the moment.  If you thought another one was better, you would adopt it.  Consequently, your waking identity is defined by an enormous amount of inertia.  It resists change, other points of view, and power sharing.  If you assume that to be the case then you will be prepared for your endless rationalizations, excuses, and justifications for why you don’t need to listen deeply to yourself.

Why and How you are Stuck

Most of what you call listening is not listening at any depth. 

The self-talk that you do during the day is called “roof-brain chatter.”  You are listening to your conscious thoughts and to those fears, hopes, doubts, sadnesses, and angers that bubble up from within you, generally in response to external events.  All of that is very superficial stuff, and you are so familiar with it that it is highly predictable and boring.  None of that involves deep listening to full-bodied, relatively autonomous emerging potentials, perspectives you rarely encounter outside of your dream life.  When you do interview such perspectives, you most likely will repress them as quickly and as completely as you can so that you are not distracted from your waking agenda.  What you hear and see, whether awake or dreaming, is what you have been conditioned to see. You misinterpret most of that. You miss the rest.

Failure to listen results in poor decision making.

Listening to both external sources of objectivity, including learning information from books, as well as listening to subjective sources of objectivity, such as interviewed emerging potentials, is key to making good decisions.  If you are unable to deeply listen to yourself, because you do not have a method, or unwilling, because you are afraid or have other priorities, you will make poorer decisions than those that have the benefit not only of external sources of objectivity but internal ones as well.  In time the difference in freedom from cultural conditioning and decision-making will cause deep listening to become a common practice, because doing so will place one at a societal and developmental advantage.  However, right now, in the culture of the early twenty-first century, almost everyone makes equally poor decisions because they don’t know how to triangulate, that is, take into account both subjective and objective sources of objectivity, and use their common sense to sort through them. Most see no clear or obvious adaptational advantage in learning to do so.

Failure to deeply listen results in an absence of the intimacy you seek.

Deep listening creates respect as well as empathy.  These two characteristics are important aspects of intimacy.  Without respect there is no foundation for trust; without trust there is no foundation for either friendship or business relationships. Without empathy there is merely manipulation of others and exploitation of the environment for the maximization of self-interest. In time selfishness alienates those whose support is required to achieve one’s own ends. As you learn to listen deeply to your emerging potentials you grow in your respect and empathy with others. The result is that you will develop a greater capability of forming intimate relationships with others.

The Drama Triangle represents a relative lack of the six core qualities. There is no enlightenment in the context of the Drama Triangle. 

Awake or dreaming, when you play the roles of victim, persecutor, or rescuer, you are in conflict with yourself.  The consequence is a life of very interesting drama and little real growth.  Other words for drama are self-delusion, maya, dukkha, and karma. IDL teaches you how to identify drama in your life and how to stay out of it in your feelings, thoughts, interpersonally, and in your dreams.

Getting Unstuck

You can easily access emerging potentials that are not stuck, and which will model that state for you, providing you with practical, useful recommendations for life change, if you will only take the time to listen to them.

Getting unstuck is a process of healing, balancing, and transforming.

If you transform without healing, your transformation will not last because it lacks a solid foundation.  Examples are gurus with addictions, like Tibetan master Chögyam Trungpa’s alcoholism. If you transform without balancing, your transformation will not last because it will not be broad enough.  Oslo, also known as Rajneesh, is an example of a brilliant Indian scholar and teacher who was undone due to imbalances of development in his personal and community life. If you balance without healing you will be the walking wounded.  Traditionally, meditators attempt this. They ignore regressed fixations and psychological scars, believing they can just burn away “bad karma” if they embrace purification and practice. If you balance without transforming you will stay stuck where you are.  This is the option almost everyone takes. We adapt to cultural norms and stop growing. If you heal without balancing your life you will not have a broad enough foundation to transform.  Examples are physical or mental-emotional healings that are too specific to support transformation. If you get over an illness you return to normalcy; there is nothing about the healing that encourages transformation, although it makes it more likely. If you heal without transforming you will also stay stuck, which is the outcome of most healings, which represent a return to normalcy. For lasting change all three, healing, balancing and transformation are required. IDL provides all three. It provides healing through prevention in the form of listening to wake-up calls. It provides healing through the application of interview recommendations. It provides balance by accessing emerging potentials that are either themselves balanced, or emphasize some combination of the six core qualities that compensates for areas where you are out of balance. For example, many people are far too compassionate compared to their degree of inner peace or ability to witness. Such people will typically access emerging potentials that model less compassion and more of the qualities they lack and need. IDL provides transformation by creating a daily yoga and integral life practice that moves development steadily forward.

There are emerging potentials that are enlightened right now.

Most people assume that if they find enlightenment it will be from some inspirational teacher or book or workshop, but certainly not from listening to a toilet brush or an imaginary octopus.  However, if you will follow the injunctions of IDL, you can test this claim for yourself.  You do not have to believe anyone.  If you will interview your emerging potentials you will quickly meet some that are more enlightened than you are.  They will not be awesomely enlightened, just more enlightened than you are. The difference is that “awesome” enlightenment can neither be attained or perpetuated while simply “more” enlightened is feasible. One would think that would provide a solid reason and incentive to listen to and  cooperate with them.  However, it is a testament to the depth of human delusion that this conclusion rarely sinks in.

You can access them right now without going into an altered state.

IDL does not involve closing your eyes (although you can if you wish), changing chairs, hypnosis, channeling, mediumship, or entering some other state of consciousness.  You can experience beneficial and profound interviews by interviewing yourself on your computer or with pencil and paper.  Both approaches require that you keep your eyes open to type or write, and it not only does not detract from the process; it increases the integration of the interviewed perspective into your sense of who you are. Or, put another way, it increases the expansion of your sense of you are to be co-extensive with the perspective of the interviewed element, at least for the duration of the interview.  The key is your ability to get into role and to answer questions in role.  If you aren’t able or willing to get into role, IDL is not for you. Once you learn how, or rather re-access imaginative role identification skills that were natural for you when you were four, you can shift back and forth easily between your waking identity and this or that emerging potential, just as you do mindlessly and habitually between your roles as student, worker, eater, driver, and so forth. However, because you have not yet grown into these new perspectives, you will find it more difficult to both remember to become them and to get into role. It isn’t as immediate and unconscious as shifting into the role of worker or cook or driver. It takes practice and persistence; it’s a yoga.

Deep listening requires the suspension of phenomenological assumptions.

Phenomenological assumptions include: “This won’t work.”  “This is stupid.” “I know what these symbols mean already.”  “Dreams aren’t real.” “Dreams are real.” “I’m not going to hear anything new or that will help…”  Such assumptions tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies.  You find what you are looking for; you end up validating your stuckness.  This is good if you want to stay stuck but not so good if you want to grow.

The more complete the identification with the “other,” the more transformational the experience is likely to be.  

IDL works to the extent that you are willing to stop playing your habitual role of psychologically geocentric self and instead immerse yourself in this or that interviewed element of a life issue or dream.  If someone does not want to do this, does not believe it will work, or lacks the ability to do so, then IDL is not for them.  It is important to set such expectations for people regarding interviewing. They are going to have to trust you enough to suspend their disbelief and follow your instructions. You can improve odds for success if you ask them to suspend disbelief and trust you. They are more than welcome to be skeptical, suspicious, and critical after the interview, just not during it. If they do, they will simply sabotage their own opportunities for healing, balancing, and transformation using IDL.

Because identification is state-specific, records of interviews must be read over. Work with recommendations needs to be made into an ongoing integral life practice if the temporary states accessed by taking on expanded perspectives during interviews are to be turned into higher stages of development.

States are temporary while stages are permanent.  It is relatively easy to create experiences of being, consciousness, or bliss.  It is relatively easy to learn to lucid dream or to learn Wilber’s integral perspective.  What is difficult is to turn temporary states of expanded consciousness into permanent developmental stages.  When you interview emerging potentials in IDL you access temporary states that are indeed expansive.  To turn those states into habitual perspectives and ways of being in the world you have to repeatedly return to them and become them in different real life circumstances.

You are less likely to get new information from an interview than you are to get a new perspective on how and why you are stuck and what you need to do about it. 

Unlike dream interpretation studying and most learning, the object of IDL dream yoga is not to get new information or insight. While you may indeed get additional information about a dream that you did not recall or a remarkably new and useful way of approaching a problem, that is not the object of interviewing. Its purpose is to expand and thin your sense of self so that you are clearer and less identified with the filterings and delusions of life, and to maintain that expanded, thinned sense of yourself.  This is not a goal that most people set for themselves and therefore is another reason why IDL makes more sense the farther along the developmental ladder one progresses.

You already know what you will hear because you are accessing perspectives that are intrinsic to your identity and growth.  What is both different and priceless about what you do hear in IDL interviewing are the priorities, the emphasis, and the perspective on how to live your life.

You can spend years learning what not to do and who not to be. Most people do exactly that. Or you can learn, and teach your kids at the same time, how to get in touch with your life compass and receive practical suggestions about how to find yourself, wake up, and avoid pain and suffering.


Consideration of AQAL

Any model of transformation in the 21st century needs to take into account Wilber’s AQAL model (all quadrants, lines, levels, states, types).  This is because of its inclusiveness and because it represents a cognitive attainment of the post-personal developmental level called “vision-logic.”  This is Wilber’s name for the stage between the egalitarian and pluralistic emphasis of late personal and an emphasis on unity with energy, nature, control, purification, and psychism that is associated with early transpersonal experience. Cognition, or mental models of how life works, leads the other lines.  You need it first. If you don’t have a frame of reference that allows you to see or understand something, you won’t, and that limits your development. Vision-logic provides a framework for comprehending the entirety of the developmental arc without discrimination against any level.  Such a model needs to be thoroughly understood before the self-sense gets anywhere close to stable transpersonal development, regardless of how many transpersonal states the person has experienced.  Therefore, while not based on Wilber’s model, IDL attempts to take it into account and uses it as a standard for the evaluation of its assumptions and methods.

Integral Deep Listening is Ethical

IDL is not situation ethics. It takes an ethical stand. IDL is moral, but not in the usual sense.  It does not say what is good or bad, better or worse based on the Word of God, scripture, spiritual teachings, or inspired pronouncements.  It observes the six stages of breath, discovers what processes are associated with each stage, and then derives qualities from each of the stages and processes. It believes confidence and courage are generally better than inferiority and fear, that empathy and compassion are usually superior to selfishness, that wisdom is often preferable to ignorance, that acceptance is usually more functional than addiction, that inner peace usually brings better results than distress, and that objectivity is important even if it isn’t always necessary. Rather than being absolute goods, these qualities are evolving vectors of development.  They are not fundamentally ethical, in that they do not exist to teach morality.  These ethical preferences are themselves meant to be outgrown, as are all preferences. By “outgrown,” we mean, “used as tools,” instead of being viewed as “real” or absolute truths, realities, preferences, or goods.

IDL Provides an Internal Moral Compass

In addition to the six core qualities of breath providing vectors for ethical development, identification with emerging potentials provides the direct, personal experience, as opposed to an abstract moral teaching or principle, that how you treat others is how you are treating the part of yourself that they represent. What follows from this experience is a practical conclusion that you don’t want to treat others in a way that you don’t want to be treated, because if you do, you are simply abusing myself.  Therefore, if you wish to value yourself, you value others; if you wish to respect yourself, you respect others. Parents, teachers, cultures, and religions have for ages attempted to instill an internal moral compass within children and the general population, for many obvious reasons. The results have been spotty, irratic, and unpredictable. IDL does not attempt to ethically parent others.  Instead, it allows people to have their own direct experience of this principle through the interviewing of emerging potentials. The result is that instead of being ethical or moral based on the internalization of cultural mores, children and adults who do IDL are likely to build a moral sense based on direct, personal contact with authentic, subjective sources of objectivity.

Emerging Potentials

Both Dream Characters and Living Beings are Emerging Potentials

Whatever else dream characters may be, they are at least in part emerging potentials. In a narrow sense, emerging potentials can be dream characters, discarnates, the personifications of life issues, synchronicities, social nightmares, historical figures, and mythological characters.  In a broader sense, emerging potentials can be any waking person, animal, or thing. Emerging Potentials are personifications of intentions and perspectives that are legitimate and authentic, but that are often different from your own.

Emerging Potentials Are Often Highly Autonomous

When you interview emerging potentials you will find that many are of strongly different opinions from your own and don’t care if you don’t like it. For example, you may be afraid of spiders that are crawling all over you in a dream, but when you become the spiders themselves you probably will no longer be afraid.  How come?  Your fear is part of the self-reinforcing constellation of your waking identity, which is only one possible, legitimate, and authentic perspective available to you. You have access to an unlimited multiplicity of perspectives, most of which are not afraid. So what?

Would you like to learn to not be unrealistically afraid? Would you wish that for your family and for your country? Do you think that the world might be different if people were not unrealistically afraid?  If people were less able to be manipulated with fear do you think it would make the world a better place? People arm themselves against each other when they perceive them as a threat. Accessing perspectives that cannot die and are not afraid of death, rejection, or failure in time amplifies those attitudes within students of IDL.

Integral Deep Listening Interviewing Integrates and Broadens Your Sense of Self and Stops Dissociation

Contrary to a common fear of mental health professionals, the autonomy of your emerging potentials rarely interferes with your normal functioning or overall psychic stability.  You are not going to fragment your personality, lose your “ego strength,” or turn into a glob of trembling protoplasm by becoming emerging potentials.  It might be interesting if you did, but unfortunately, IDL has not demonstrated that capacity.  You aren’t in trance when you do an interview; IDL is not hypnosis or tripping out in some altered state of consciousness.  You remain quite aware and quite “you” the entire time you are responding as a giant squid or a toothpick.  You get to witness yourself being delusional, absurd, and generally having a good time while expanding your consciousness in ways that feel genuine and worth repeating.

When you listen to emerging potentials you find that they are relatively autonomous. 

You are not only capable of accessing innumerable perspectives; you have the potential to grow into countless others. Each of these world views is congruent, given its own premises and positioning in relationship to your life.  This congruency has inertia, or internal integrity, which is experienced as autonomy when an emerging potential is interviewed.  It doesn’t matter what it is or whether you think it will be of value or not. You will meet ferociously independent, opinionated, and prejudiced emerging potentials that are just as certain that they are right about their beliefs, opinions, and assumptions as you are of yours.  However, in the thousands that have been interviewed over some thirty plus years, none have risen anywhere close to dissociation in their autonomy.  No one goes into trance.  No one forgets who they are.  No one surrenders their autonomy simply because they grant autonomy to other emerging potentials.  While this is possible, and may happen if a person has a predisposition, anyone can prove to their own satisfaction that the interviewing process of IDL is highly integrative rather than deconstructive of self.  Paradoxically, listening, and the disidentification with waking identity that it implies, strengthens integration because it defuses internal conflicts that, in their extreme, could spin off into dangerous autonomy if not listened to.

How is it that interviewing an unimportant minor object in a trivial dream can support enlightenment?

The characters that you interview have no “own being” or independent existence. This is easy to see in a dream garden hose or a hippo that is the personification of your depression. They are not really what they appear to be: real objects or entities. Instead, their identity is a place holder for a certain perspective, viewpoint, world view, and embedded, non-germinated potentials.  When you become this or that character you imbue it with your level of development in all four quadrants: your level of consciousness, your values, your world view, your behavioral repertoire, and your relationships. Those animate and evoke into being what previously was almost nothing. However, when this occurs, the perspective displayed is more or less different than your own. This is because its perspective on life is in significant ways at variance from your own. Therefore it almost always represents a “value added” perspective on your life: it has the advantages of knowing you and your reality, because it is you and is part of your reality, but at the same time it is more than you. It sees your reality with objectively that you lack, and it often scores higher than you in other  of the six core qualities as well.

Why Interview Emerging Potentials?

Emerging potentials are much more than self-aspects, sub-personalities, roles, symbols, ghosts, demons, gods, extraterrestrials, objects, and people.  Any and all forms that you experience in any state of consciousness are considered by IDL to fundamentally be emerging potentials, regardless of whatever else they may be.  However, they include and transcend all of these, causing their ontological status to be indefinite. They are neither real nor imaginary, objective or subjective, sacred or profane. These are categories humans use, not life itself. This in itself is a new concept for most people, and the exercise of becoming such non-categorizable phenomena is itself a mind-expanding experience. It leads to the question, “What if I think of myself not as a “self” but as just one more emerging potential? What does that mean?”

To refer to something as an emerging potential is an attempt to avoid complete ownership while   also avoiding a claim to objective reality. If I appear in your dream I am probably an aspect of yourself, but it could be that I got bored and wanted to talk and decided to have an out of the body experience.  Or, you could be dealing with a “real” doppelgänger of me from a parallel universe, if you really want to stretch the boundaries of credibility. However, my reality status is not the point. What matters is that the me in your dream knows all about you, yet adds its own unique perspective to your own. If you meet me on the street, I am probably really me, but all you will know of me are those qualities and characteristics that you project onto me.  Therefore I am  in practice mostly, but not completely, an aspect of yourself, regardless of how objectively real I am.  At the other extreme, a tree is an objective phenomena. In practice, trees are mostly, but not completely, objectively real. IDL moves beyond the dualism of self vs. other by considering both to be emerging potentials, which is more important, interesting, and helpful than whether something is really part of you or not. Such reality testing is necessary for safety; however the more you identify with that which does not die, the less important are those distinctions that create safety. Reality is one of them.

Because everybody and everything that you experience in any state is known only through the mediation of your interpretations and projections, this is the common default position and lowest common denominator of all experienced phenomena.  However, when you go to interview an emerging potential you lay this assumption aside as well.  You do not know if a dream character is a self-aspect until you ask it, and it may not know or it may not be telling the truth.   It could say it is a self-aspect, or that it is not, or it is some combination of the two.  In normal interviewing characters are asked what aspect of the interviewee they most closely represent or personify. This is not the same as answering, “I am a part of you, nothing more.” In any case, if you do not believe the answer you get you are advised to challenge it by asking follow-up questions to see if its testimony is credible. You are advised to check out what it says with peers in the method and with other interviewed emerging potentials.

Power sharing with emerging potentials promotes healing, balancing, and transformation. 

It is not surprising that the result of identification with emerging potentials is the incorporation of their competencies into an expanded sense of self.  The more that this is done, the less internal conflict exists. The more balance you are likely to experience within your sense of self and in your mirrored external world.  All this lays an excellent foundation for your development beyond identification as a self to the indeterminate status of another emerging potential, as real as a tree and as imaginary as the Tooth Fairy.

Becoming emerging potentials is inherently therapeutic because it expands waking identity to include a previously excluded or unrecognized relevant perspective.

Alternative subjective perspectives do not have to be disowned or shadow.  They can be unrecognized potentials that have never been owned. Therefore, they have never been disowned. They are not “shadow,” because they are relatively enlightened. IDL does not assume that any emerging potential is disowned shadow.  It suspends such assumptions in favor of simply listening to how each emerging potential views itself.

The interpretations and recommendations of emerging potentials provide subjective sources of objectivity.

Emerging potentials, even if they are people in your waking life or members of the White Brotherhood, are still subjective, to the extent that what you know of them is dependent upon your own framework of meanings.  Emerging potentials are autonomous and objective to the extent that they do or say things that are independent of your preferences and expectations.  Amazingly, you will find that emerging potentials from your dreams and those that are personifications of your life issues are often more honest, and therefore more “objective,” than real people are.

You share power with other emerging potentials when you become them and apply their recommendations in your waking life.

You move from the realm of platitudes and conjecture into the realm of lasting transformation when you take the recommendations of your emerging potentials seriously and put them to the test in your waking life.  Not only do you test the method, you increase your trust in yourself, integrate and expand your identity, and speed your development.  You transform your self-governance from a waking dictatorship into a consensual democracy.

What does it mean to see yourself and others as “emerging potentials” instead of as selves?

An “emerging potential” is not a “thing” or a “being;” it is a “process” or a “doing.” While things imply static continuity, processes imply flux and impermanence, which corresponds to our experiential reality. Our language and cognitive distinctions define moments and spatial relationships out of the flux, creating artificial, but highly useful and convenient “beings” where there are none outside our habitual projections and cognitive filtering. Beings of all sorts are delusions created by inherited groupthink for the purpose of adaptation and growth. They are most certainly necessary, but that does not mean they are real.

The reality status of a process is much more clearly dependent upon the frame of reference or perspective of the observer. This reflects the experience of IDL and the status of whatever is interviewed. It does not matter if its source is external or internal, real or imaginary; all interviewed emerging potentials possess the same indefinite, ambiguous reality status. If you interview God or your spouse both the reality and usefulness will be no different from interviewing a pile of shit. Similarly, if you had the objectivity to interview yourself, the result would be the same.

The main problem that arises from thinking of yourself as an emerging potential instead of a “self” is that it threatens your sense of control and security. It undercuts every definition of who you think you are. The result can be something like “existential angst,” fear that there is no meaning in life, that nothing matters, that there are no rules and no moral compass. The ironic response to that is to look around at the world and recognize that even if that were true (it isn’t) that it could hardly be worse than the mess created by people who claim all those things. A more balanced response is to point out that a great deal of freedom is made available through defining yourself as an emerging potential that does not exist for selves. Selves have boundaries and rules of behavior. Emerging potentials do as well, but these are arbitrary and fluid, providing many more possibilities for creativity and growth.

Experiment with the concept and see what you think. You can do so by simply asking yourself when you think of it, several times a day, “If I were not “me” but instead an emerging potential, what would that be like? What would be different? What would be the same? What would matter more? What would matter less? Would my priorities change? If so, how?”

Why Integral Deep Listening does not use the concepts of “soul,” “self,” “Self,” or “Atman.”

Other perspectives or emerging potentials come to the forefront when you go to sleep, when you become something else in a dream, and when you die ,that allow for a continuity of existence.  The Buddhist understanding of soul is instructive. Buddhists do not consider the soul to be real or eternal, but merely an aggregation of five interdependent factors, sensation, thought, emotion, perception, and consciousness.  What looks and feels like a permanent identity, when seen from the perspective of interviewed emerging potentials is more a dream-like persona that arises repeatedly in certain contexts. For example, you may have a house as a recurring dream character. Does that mean that the dream house is “real” in the sense that it has a permanent identity independent of you? No; it means that your dream house arises in the context of life issues in which it is useful or appropriate. If you think of your sense of self, or anyone’s sense of self or soul, more along these lines, you will begin to see that permanence is an artifact of context. Change the context and permanence of identity disappears, only to be reanimated at will when you put the same CD back into the player or run the same You Tube video. In addition, permanent identity places an artificial limit on wakefulness because it creates real boundaries, divisions, conflicts, and dualities that are conventions of perception

Respecting and listening to your emerging potentials increases your ability to hear others. 

If it is the case that how you treat others is how you treat the parts of yourself that they represent, then the corollary is also the case.  How you treat your emerging potentials is how you will treat those who personify those same attributes.  The more you learn to become a wide variety of emerging potentials the more likely you are to listen at depth to others, with the result that you will assess their intentions and capabilities more effectively.

Integral Deep Listening Exposes a Hierarchy of Processes in Which Some Behaviors Transcend and Include Others

Emerging potentials generally are more awake than you are because they represent perspectives that are broader and more inclusive than your own.  They are generally more alive than you are because their behavior is not conditioned by the energy available to a physical body. They are generally more balanced than you are because their perspectives are more inclusive than your own.  They are generally more detached because they need less than you do.  They tend to be more free because they are less dependent on physical senses and resources, feelings, thoughts, money, or the opinions of others than you are.  They tend to be clearer than you are because their world view is broader and less complicated.  For these reasons, emerging potentials tend to support these processes and your evolution into them, as individuals and as a species. Consequently, it is wise to listen to such emerging potentials.  They make more reliable friends and sources of guidance than do many people.

Integral Deep Listening Exposes a Hierarchy of Values in Which Qualities Transcend and Include Others

Emerging potentials generally are less afraid and more confident than you are because they do not have to eat and they cannot physically die.  They are generally more compassionate because they can take multiple perspectives when you cannot or do not. They are generally more wise because their perspective includes your own as well as theirs.  They are generally more accepting because they accept themselves as well as you, while your acceptance of both is often either lacking or conditional.  They tend to be more at peace because they generally have both more of these core qualities than you do, and maintain them in better balance than you do.  They tend to witness more of the drama of life than you do because they personify perspectives that transcend and include your own.  For these reasons, emerging potentials tend to support these qualities (confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing) and your evolution into them. Consequently, it is wise to listen to such emerging potentials.  They make more reliable friends and sources of guidance than do many people.

The Six Core Processes and Qualities

Why are there six core processes and qualities? Why not five or seven?  What makes them “core?” Why are there “processes” instead of “things?” Why are there “qualities” instead of attributes or states?  Why are they typically invoked in every IDL interview?

There are six core processes and qualities because there are six major parts of every breath. 

These processes and qualities are grounded in one of the most fundamental expressions of life that we experience: our breathing. They are not abstract metaphysical concepts that spontaneously sprout full-blown into existence, like Athena from the head of Zeus or Platonic Ideas. If you observe your breath you will notice that it has at least six parts: abdominal inhalation, chest inhalation, the pause at the top of the breath, chest exhalation, abdominal exhalation, and the pause at the bottom of the breath. Some people sub-divide the cycle further, most frequently dividing chest inhalation and exhalation into an upper and lower part.

Observation of breath is said to be the process by which Buddha attained enlightenment.  Along with the beating of your heart, it is your core, observable, stable, physiological process.  It has the benefit of being governed by both the central and autonomic nervous systems, meaning that it bridges waking and non-waking control.  Because breath is central not only to life but to your interdependence with all forms, breathing is a core human function.  Consequently, processes and qualities associated with each of the six stages of the round of breath are core aspects of humanity, not metaphysical abstractions.

Six core processes can be associated with each stage of the cycle of breath.

These are

abdominal inhalation: awake,

chest inhalation: alive,

the pause at the top of the breath: balanced,

chest exhalation: detached,

abdominal exhalation: free, and

the pause at the bottom of the breath: clear.

Processes are action states while qualities are values.  Processes describe external individual and group behaviors; qualities describe internal individual and group values.  Processes, or what you do, tend to be generated by qualities, or the values that you hold.

Qualities can be associated with each stage of the cycle of breath.

These are abdominal inhalation: confidence,

chest inhalation: compassion,

the pause at the top of the breath: wisdom,

chest exhalation: acceptance,

abdominal exhalation: inner peace, and

the pause at the bottom of the breath: witnessing.

The six parts of the breath can be associated with the round of a day, a year, and the life cycle.

It is true that the characteristics that we associate with each of the stages and what we name each process and quality is debatable, but that does not mean it is entirely arbitrary. There is both a discernible difference in process and quality between an abdominal inhalation and a chest exhalation. We may quibble about just what words to give those differences, but they are distinct enough that there can be general agreement. Abdominal inhalation is analogous to waking up, a seed sprouting in the spring, or the fearless spontaneity of a baby that has no experience with injury, failure, or death.  Chest inhalation is analogous to being alive, growing, getting about the day’s work, spring to summer, going to school, finding work, and raising a family. It involves excess energy that can be used to provide for others or do work, not simply for personal survival. The pause at the top of the breath is analogous to the balance or stability you experience when you have your daily routines flowing smoothly, summer, and when your life ripens into stable, habitual productivity.  Chest exhalation is analogous to letting go of the concerns of the day in the evening, after you are through with your day’s work, with autumn, and with retirement.  Abdominal exhalation is analogous to going to sleep, to the onset of winter, and to death.  The pause at the bottom of the breath is analogous to dream and deep sleep, to winter, and to life after death.

The significance of these analogies is that they integrate the various aspects of your life with every breath and with every IDL interview.

Are the core qualities real?

IDL does not consider the six core qualities to be ultimately real.  Your awareness of them evolves as you develop.  In time you transcend them.  However, they are real enough on transpersonal levels of development that involve oneness with energy, compassion, and formless witnessing.  Work with them to move your sense of self and center of gravity into the transpersonal, and then be prepared to let them go as your wakefulness transcends and includes them.

Why ask an emerging potential to score itself in each of the six core qualities?

Enlightened awareness includes fearlessness because, having no body, or self, the sacred cannot die. Therefore, it is not fearful. It is what we would equate with supreme confidence. Enlightened awareness also includes compassion, which transcends and includes love. Love has as its opposites fear and hate while compassion transcends and includes both love and its opposites, fear and hate. Enlightenment also includes omniscience, or wisdom, unconditional acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing. The sacred has other attributes as well. To balance and integrate these will bring us a long way along the road to continuously living in a space of wakefulness.

These six core qualities are interdependent and support each other, bringing life into balance,  a prerequisite for transformation. There is also a process of education going on; interviewees are not only learning about these qualities and their relationships to each other, but what they feel like so that they can experience them, not just have an abstract concept about them. When you ask a emerging potential about one of the six core qualities, say inner peace, you are observing it from the often novel and insightful perspective of that emerging potential, say a lion.  This amplification of inner peace as it is experienced from the perspective of the lion is a state awareness and does not last, but it does not completely go away either.  The expansion, if only occurring during the interview, diminishes thereafter but leaves its mark as a slightly expanded sense of self. Because you are identifying with that lion, you are amplifying within your consciousness its world view, perspective, and experience of inner peace, which it may experience quite differently than fire or a can of soda.

Amplification of the six core qualities in consciousness through repetition

Over time this broadens and generalizes the experience of inner peace. That process is deepened and expanded when you become that lion, fire, or can of soda in specific life circumstances that it recommends. This is one reason why it is important to return to the emerging potential during your daily life and become it again and again.  We recommend the return to the experience of becoming an emerging potential for a minimum of 61 seconds a day for at least a lunar cycle of 28 days. You are amplifying confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing, as core qualities of awakening and enlightenment, within your everyday awareness.

Principles associated with each core process


For IDL, wakefulness is associated with rebirth, enlightenment, and learning to see everything and everyone as a wake-up call, an opportunity to expand and thin your sense of self. It is spontaneity, exuberance, and starting over. Heightened wakefulness shows up in IDL in the state expansion that often occurs when you become a perspective that includes, yet transcends, your own.


Aliveness is the opposite of entropy, the second law of thermodynamics, that states that all matter is moving toward randomness, compelled by mindless inertia. Negentropy is another word for evolutionary processes, the building up of increasingly complex structures and processes that possess additive capabilities for not only awareness but aliveness. To be alive in this sense is not simply to live but to have the extra energy necessary for growth beyond oneself. This aliveness shows up in IDL in identification with emerging potentials, when they make recommendations and offer perspectives that expand possibilities, choices, and your sense of self.


An advantage of understanding balance in terms of the medical and scientific concept of homeostasis is that it views balance not as the absence of conflict but as a productive balancing of conflicting interests. For example, the atmosphere presses down on us at some 14 pounds per square inch; our cell structures have evolved a structural integrity that pushes back at exactly the same amount. This is not an absence of conflict, but a precise evolutionary balancing of conflict in such a way that higher order structures and processes can be built on top of this conflict. What many call “shadow,” or internal conflict, does not need to be fought as much as it needs to be balanced. Internal conflicts are necessary to build higher order developmental levels. Conflict is your friend;  ask, what are the processes and qualities I need to develop in order to balance this conflict, instead of trying to eradicate it? We see this same concept in the developmental dialectic. The status quo of thesis is not transcended until conflict as antithesis is embraced rather than repressed or ignored.  When you fully understand balance you will see that conflict, pain, ambiguity, and confusion are teachers and wake-up calls. They are good things, to be respected, listened to, and supported. IDL does so when it takes a conflict, gives it a color, fills the room with that color, watches it congeal into some shape, and then interviews it. Balance is also emphasized in the way the combination of emphasized core qualities by an interviewed emerging potential balance or compensate for those of waking identity.


While the glorification of detachment from one’s senses or sources of life impurity can lead to access of unusual and expanded states of consciousness, those are not the same as stable higher level development. An over-emphasis on detachment is more likely to lead to significant imbalances in development that in turn slow down and fixate growth. These caveats are necessary to state up front because so much of “spirituality” focuses on detachment as a key to enlightenment. Once it is understood and accepted that much of life is a dream and delusion to which you are addicted, it becomes clear that it is difficult to over-emphasize detachment. The ability to detach generates freedom, because that which you think you must have controls you. IDL emphasizes detachment from your normal waking sense of who you are through identification with emerging potentials that are normally not part of your self sense, like toads or the Eiffel Tower. This sort of detachment is infinitely more valuable than detachment from chocolate, the internet, sex, or any of the other Seven Deadly Sins. It also teaches detachment from drama, cognitive distortions, and waking identity, but only in the context of creating balance with the other five of the six core qualities.


Freedom is an over-emphasized and poorly understood aspect of enlightenment. In Hinduism the goal of life and yoga is samadi, or liberation. By itself, freedom is an adolescent escapism that is unrealistic because it does not recognize that it is only through limitation and structure that we can recognize freedom in the first place. Ultimate freedom means not only freedom from pain and limit, but freedom from growth, happiness, and love. Circumstances themselves are neither free nor imprisoning; you get to choose how much of one or the other you are going to experience in your present circumstances.  For example, imprisonment can be experienced as forced confinement, in which case it becomes punishment, or it can be reframed as a monastic opportunity for detachment and inner work. That ability to choose how you will perceive someone or your circumstances is what freedom is. To understand freedom you must first learn to experience it as your projection onto your circumstances rather than as a valid definition of circumstances themselves.

When you do IDL interviews you will regularly run into emerging potentials that are simply not defined and confined by the circumstances that you find confining. You will experience relative freedom when you take on their persona and look at the world from their perspective. If you want to experience freedom, do IDL interviewing and learn to become this or that emerging potential in confining life circumstances. Following their recommendations generates another, even broader, type of freedom.


Clarity is a way of describing a space of unmanifest potential that is empty of mental, emotional, or structural forms of any kind. Consequently, it has also been called “empty,” but in the sense that a plenum is empty or the universe, which is full mostly of dark matter, is empty. Think of this clarity as luminous, like the interior of a diamond, or like the night sky. Think of it as overflowing with unstructured aliveness, rather like a fish oblivious to the water in which it swims or ourselves, generally oblivious to the sea of air in which we “swim” and constantly take in and expire. IDL uses identification with emerging potentials that score high in witnessing as a way to access and amplify objectivity from drama, sleepwalking, and delusion.  However, its greatest benefit comes from simply becoming a perspective that is clear. It is an unassailable, open, creative space.

Principles associated with each core quality


If you were not afraid of getting hurt, dying failure, rejection, disease, or poverty, would it change how you lived your life? Of course it would. The immediate objection is that without such limits you would become a narcissistic, grandiose control freak who would run over the rights and interests of everyone else. But suppose that you not only were not afraid, but were mature enough to not misuse that fearlessness? What then? Certainly you would be willing to take more risks and relax into your life. You would learn faster because you would be willing to make more mistakes. You would grow faster because you would be that much more involved and engaged with life.


Most people learn to be loving or compassionate because they are expected to be so; they should be selfless, with the implication being that if they are not, they should feel guilty about it. What kind of motivation for selflessness is that? For one thing it is very superficial and insincere; for another, it is selfish, because selflessness is being pursued out of fear of what will happen if one is not! It is exactly this type of phony compassion that causes many interviewed emerging potentials to score very low in compassion: they don’t want to be associated with a selfish definition of compassion!

The way IDL addresses this is by teaching a mature concept of compassion through identification with all sorts of other perspectives, including those which you do not like. This creates empathy, which in time generates a genuinely selfless concern. However, the depth of compassion depends completely on the transparency of self. The greater the identification with a sense of self, the less genuine compassion can exist, because that self acts for selfish, not compassionate, reasons. The greater the identification with selfless emerging potentials, the more genuine compassion can exist.


Socrates was said to be the wisest man in Greece because “he knew that he didn’t know.” Similarly, when you grasp truth, you understand that there is no Truth, but only continuously broadening moments of greater knowingness. These provide increasing opportunities for humility, because they serve as constant reminders of how little you do know and how much more there is to know.


Acceptance is not a passive allowing of whatever happens to happen. It is rather an ability to place value not on preferences, likes and dislikes, but on the simple presence of what arises into your attention, both within and without. Without the dictatorship of your preferences you can allow everything to be whatever it chooses to be and respond in kind.  Preferences still exist, but attachment to them does not.

At Peace

Peace is another quality of wakefulness that is commonly misunderstood as the absence of conflict, stress, thought, or emotion.  But how can you have peace if you are continuously on guard against the possibility of invasion by these qualities? Clearly, peace must transcend and include conflict, stress, thought, and emotion. It must be a space in which all these things  exist but without a disturbance to your equanimity. Wouldn’t that be amazing? It is not so inconceivable. An excellent example are professional marksmen of the Olympic biathlon who combine the intensity of sprint cross-country skiing with marksmanship. Peace also involves the toleration of ambiguity in preferences, ideas, feelings, relationships, roles, truth, and love.


While witnessing during the practice of meditation cultivates objectivity, witnessing during waking life is an interplay between identification and objectivity. You must identify with a role or a task to complete it well, yet you will do it even better if you can watch yourself in that role or while you are completing that task. First you learn to watch yourself; then you learn to watch yourself watching yourself. Then you learn to watch yourself from various other perspectives – others, objects, emerging potentials. This is polyperspectivalism, a type of witnessing that allows you to both become and watch at the same time.

Waking Up out of Life Drama

Generating personifications of life issues

A waking life issue is a concern, challenge, or opportunity.  You interview the personification of a life issue in order to access one or more perspectives that will help you heal, balance, and transform your life.  The interviewing process is meant to mimic the dream creation process. When you go to sleep you take the concerns, feelings, thoughts, and intentions of your previous day into your sleep and dreams.  These combine with priorities of your life compass to generate dreams.  (This is an interior collective theory of dream creation.  There are other theories from the perspectives of other quadrants.) You mimic that process when you interview life issues.

Dreams are assumed by IDL to begin with intention, such as avoiding failure, generally a mixture of waking hopes and fears (a hope to avoid failure but a fear you won’t), inner, unrecognized hopes and fears (desires to please the parents in your head and a fear you won’t), and the perspectives of emerging potentials that for one reason or another have an investment in a particular issue. Intentions take form first as feelings, then as interacting images that convey or represent the circumstances of the intention. If it is a hope, images that personify that hope are generated. If it is a conflict, images that personify that conflict are generated. Following this example, IDL takes an intention, the resolution of a life issue, and identifies the core feeling or feelings that it evokes. When you turn the feeling into a color or colors you are giving your feeling form in an abstract sense. Surrounding yourself with that color is designed to amplify its presence in your awareness so that you feel it strongly, increasing the likelihood that when you watch it swirl, congeal, and condense into a form, mimicking the dream creation process, that something will spontaneously arise.

Life does not differentiate between dreaming and life as a dream.  Therefore, you can interview personifications of waking life issues as easily and effectively as interviewing dream characters.  

You can check out this principle for yourself by conducting interviews on both dreams and life issues and then comparing the results.  You are likely to discover that both are excellent ways of accessing perspectives that help you wake up.  From the perspective of interviewed emerging potentials, there is no distinction between waking and dream reality.

Meditation and Integral Deep Listening

For IDL, meditation is not thinking, feeling, imaging, sensing, or going into an altered state of consciousness.  It is not about samadhi or liberation; it is not about sat, cit, ananda – being, consciousness, bliss. It is witnessing all of these things.  There is not only nothing wrong with any of these activities; meditation typically makes use of all of them to leverage you out of your identification with them.  Nevertheless, while they are helpful tools and processes, they are not meditative awareness itself. IDL is designed to help you to understand, appreciate, and use this distinction to enhance your meditation.

Whatever emerging potential you become when you meditate, your beingness is anchored in each stage of your breath.  This provides an anchor or a touchstone, a place to be at every moment, first in the foreground of your awareness, then in the background, as the beingness of your emerging potential becomes who you are, in the fullness of the six core qualities.

Meditation has huge benefits for body, mind, and life itself

Meditation has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, improve the immune system, improve concentration, work and school performance, reduce worry and emotional lability, and strengthen the six core qualities.  Your emerging potentials are typically in a meditative state of consciousness; when you access them you not only experience such states but integrate them into your waking sense of who you are. Because meditation is a space of minimization of filtration of experience combined with clear awareness, it amplifies the presence and quality of life. It supports life waking up to itself.

Your difficulty meditating springs from your addiction to your thoughts, images, sensations, feelings, and to zoning out through drowsiness or trance.

The easiest way to break these addictions is to first identify and then practice becoming emerging potentials that are not addicted.  They will show you how. You can do this by identifying the feelings that you associate with your addiction and do interviews around them.

Your difficulty meditating springs from your addiction to your ongoing baseline of activation.  

Smokers are addicted to maintaining a certain amount of nicotine in their bloodstream.  High stress individuals are addicted to maintaining a certain intensity of thought, feeling, and action.  Overeaters are addicted to certain feelings of comfort when they are eating and feeling full.  Lonely people are addicted to the need for companionship.  If you continue to do, feel, and think those things that feed your addiction you will stay addicted.  If you become emerging potentials that are not addicted, you will naturally outgrow your addictions.

Meditation is “thanatomimetic.”

In order to be reborn you have to die.  Meditation is practice at dying.  The more profoundly you die when you meditate the more seeds of rebirth you plant. IDL is one form of dying to self, since you have to lay down your waking identity in order to pick up another identity.  Meditation speeds up this process by providing another powerful way of dying to yourself.

Meditation amplifies the six core qualities, particularly the “night” qualities.

Meditation is especially effective at enhancing your ability to witness, or to watch the drama of your life go by without getting caught up in it, in deepening your sense of inner peace, and in learning detachment.  You will also grow in your acceptance of yourself and others, your wisdom, compassion, and your confidence.

You have access to countless emerging potentials that are meditating right now.  

Who can best teach you how to meditate?  If meditation is primarily about cultivating the witness, wouldn’t you want to learn from someone who scored ten on a scale of zero to ten in witnessing?  If meditation is about cultivating inner peace and wisdom, how about learning from someone who scored ten on a scale of zero to ten in inner peace and wisdom?  What if they also scored tens in acceptance, compassion, and confidence?  What if this teacher knew you better than anyone else possibly could?  What if this teacher always expanded in the width and depth of these qualities so you never outgrew its instruction? What if you had access to an endless number of such teachers? If all of these conditions applied, do you think you might learn a thing or two about meditation? This is what makes IDL meditation superior as an approach to meditation. It is not meant to replace the creativity and objectivity of teachers of meditation, but to speed your practice by accessing your life compass as a way to direct the integration of those teachings in your life.

By accessing emerging potentials you gain direct experience of what it means to meditate.

What if you had the ability to actually merge with those teachers, to experience what it was like to be them when they mediate, do you think that might help you learn to meditate?  This is what IDL offers – your own personal access to meditational instruction that is tailor made for you and that you will never outgrow.  It will always teach you the next step you need.

Meditation enhances Integral Deep Listening.

Meditation is high-octane fuel for your emerging potentials.  It helps heal your imbalanced, low-scoring ones, it helps balance your various lines of development, and it strengthens the influence of this or that high-scoring emerging potential.

Integral Deep Listening enhances meditation.

Emerging potentials that score high on the six core qualities are awake and relatively enlightened.  They are, relative to you, in a state of meditation.  When you become emerging potentials that are naturally in a meditative state you experience what it is like to be in a meditative state, if only for a short period of time. The more that you do this the more you gradually grow into a habitual dwelling in that state of mind.

Integral Deep Listening amplifies the six core qualities.

The six core qualities are markers of enlightenment; their amplification and balancing is one of the major reasons to meditate.  By broadening and deepening these core qualities in your consciousness through interviewing your emerging potentials you are amplifying meditative consciousness in your awareness in general,  not just when you are meditating.

The six core processes are based on observing the six parts of every breath.

In addition to associating each of the six core qualities to a particular part of your breath you can associate this or that emerging potential to each part of your breath.  This can deepen and broaden those perspectives when you meditate.

Emphasize inhalation to become more alert, combat daydreaming and drowsiness.

When you are alert you are not daydreaming or drowsy.  You feel alive, focused, and centered.  Emphasize your inhalations whenever your thinking becomes fuzzy or aimless when you meditate or want more clarity in your mind.

Emphasize exhalation to amplify relaxation 

When you are deeply relaxed you think less and are far less emotional reactive.  The sympathetic, or fight and flight, branch of your autonomic nervous system is deactivated while the parasympathetic branch is activated.  Emphasize your exhalations whenever you want to calm your mind, not only during meditation but at other times.

Emphasize abdominal inhalation to wake up and build confidence.

If you want to use any part of your breathing to feel more awake and confident, your abdominal inhalation is the natural place to do so.  If you need a boost in either as you go through your day, focus on your abdominal inhalation.  If you feel sleepy when you meditate, focus on your abdominal inhalation.  If you feel doubtful, confused, worried, or scared, emphasize your abdominal inhalation.

Emphasize chest inhalation to feel alive and compassionate.

If you want to use any part of your breathing to feel more alive and compassionate, your chest inhalation is the natural place to do so.  If you need a boost in either as you go through your day, focus on your chest inhalation.  If you feel lifeless or de-energized when you meditate, focus on your chest inhalation.  If you feel self-absorbed or guilty, emphasize your chest inhalation.

Emphasize the pause at the top of the breath to experience balance and expand wisdom.

If you want to use any part of your breathing to feel more balanced and wise, the pause at the top of each breath is the natural place to do so.  If you need a boost in either as you go through your day, focus on the pause at the top of each breath.  If you feel more mentally alert than relaxed when you meditate, focus on the pause at the top of each breath to bring yourself back in balance.  If you feel more relaxed than alert, emphasize the pause at the top of each breath to bring yourself back in balance.  If you want to increase your sense of knowingness, of being in the right place at the right time right now, focus on the pause at the top of your breath.

Emphasize chest exhalation to let go and amplify acceptance of yourself and others.

If you want to use any part of your breathing to let go of your preferences and feel greater acceptance, your chest exhalation is the natural place to do so.  If you need a boost in detachment from the drama of life and your mind as you go through your day, focus on your chest exhalation.  If you feel blaming or self-critical when you meditate, focus on your chest exhalation. If your mind is racing during meditation or you can’t stop thinking, focus on your chest exhalations.

Emphasize abdominal exhalation to amplify inner peace and freedom.

If you want to use any part of your breathing to amplify inner peace and feel a greater sense of freedom, your abdominal exhalation is the natural place to do so.  If you feel strung out or trapped by your job, relationship, or life’s pressures, focus on your abdominal exhalation.  If you want to deepen your sense of inner peace and freedom when you meditate, focus on your abdominal exhalation.

Emphasize the pause at the bottom of the breath to amplify clarity and witnessing.

If you want to use any part of your breathing to amplify clarity and your ability to stand apart from the drama in your life, the pause at the bottom of your breath is the natural place to do so.  If you feel scattered or enmeshed in the drama and karma of life or your mind, focus on the pause at the bottom of your breath.  If you want to deepen your meditation and cultivate the witness, you could do much worse than to make the pause at the bottom of your breath your ally and support.

Integral Deep Listening cultivates these qualities through repeated identification with emerging potentials that self-score higher in them than you do.

Higher scoring emerging potentials are generally experienced as being more awake in this or that core quality than you are.   Whether a self-aspect is Jesus Christ or a toilet brush does not matter; what matters is how fully it discloses the six core qualities in ways that are relevant for you and that you can use. IDL is fundamentally not about this or that emerging potential or this or that state of consciousness; it is about using these identifications and their recommendations to awaken to a fuller expression of the six core processes and qualities, because together they form a working definition of wakefulness and enlightenment.

Integral Deep Listening turns meditation from a practice into an ongoing state of consciousness.

As you grow into the six core qualities gradually, organically over a period of months, your awareness becomes more meditative.  It takes on many of the qualities that define a meditative consciousness, blurring the distinction between sitting practice and everyday mind.  The goal, of course, is for there to be no difference, and for the meditative mind you can access in effective meditation to be your everyday mind. Meditative practice generally leads development. You use it to anchor your awareness in broader definitions of what it means to expand and include. Then you use your waking life to anchor that new breadth in more effective practical action.

Integral Deep Listening reduces your addiction to your thoughts.

The more that you identify with emerging potentials that identify more with being than the doingness of thinking, feeling, and other forms of doing, the less addicted to your thoughts and feelings you become.  You still think and have feelings, but they no longer define who you are, nor do they keep you awake at night or tug at you to give them attention.

Integral Deep Listening reduces your baseline of activation.  

You are probably much more reactive mentally and emotionally than you either need to be or than is good for you.  For example, you probably think you need to be more fearful or cautious than you actually need to be. But how do you learn that it is safe to let go of fears that have seemed useful in the past? Becoming emerging potentials that are good at letting it all go will slowly but surely ease you into doing the same.

Integral Deep Listening turns the mundane into the sacred.

Would you like your life to be filled with a sense of magical wonder?  Would you like to feel thankful, appreciative, and prosperous all the time regardless of how few possessions or money you may have?  Would you like to feel as if every breath you take is precious and sacred? Would you like to be able to laugh at yourself and the drama of life more?  The six core qualities provide a foundation for the emergence of a sense of transparency, which means that you no longer feel that life is about you.  Life events affect you much less.  You will also feel an increasing sense of joy at the crazy wisdom of life.  All of these are elements of the sacred, and they will grow within you the more that you practice IDL.

Integral Deep Listening Provides a Structure for Finding and Directing Your Integral Life Practice

You need methods that allow you to find and strengthen your own vision of who you are and where you are going, and to do it in a way that is universal enough so that it resonates with others. Facebook and other forms of social networking are easy but more superficial ways of doing that. Open Forums are a more difficult but a less superficial way of doing so. Developing an Integral Life Practice (ILP) is a personal way of doing so. IDL, as a structure for finding and directing one’s integral life practice, is designed to generate an integral life practice  that grows as you grow.

What does an Integral Deep Listening ILP look like?

Students of IDL are taught to identify five year, one year, six month, and one month life goals in the following life areas: health, nutrition, exercise, career, education, family, love relationship, leisure, money, spiritual development, and sex. They then contemplate what it would feel like to fail at attaining these goals. They give that feeling or those feelings a color or colors, fill the room with them, and watch them congeal into a form, which they then interview. What they are doing is getting a consult from an aspect of their life compass on their priorities. Why do so? How do you know that your priorities reflect those of your life compass? Is it wise to pursue goals that do not reflect the priorities of your life compass? Wouldn’t that expose you to unnecessary and counterproductive inner conflict that would tend to sabotage your pursuit of your goals? Aren’t you likely to experience less resistance to your integral life practice if you are pursuing it in a way that reflects the priorities of your life compass?

Personal development is best pursued by waking identity setting goals and submitting them to evaluation by trusted and respected emerging potentials.

It is not enough to set valuable and important goals, like stopping smoking or losing weight or exercising more, in the assumption that these goals support your highest good and that therefore you will be supported by God and all the angels in heaven.  God and all the angels in heaven may have other priorities, but you won’t know that until you ask.  If you don’t, you are just assuming.  When you ask you are likely to find that your emerging potentials have a different agenda.  It is not that they disagree with your goals; it is that they have other priorities.  If you remain ignorant of them or choose to ignore them, then you are working on different priorities than your inner self.  Is that more or less likely to provide you with the support you assume you are getting?  Is it more or less likely to get you to your goal?

Practice Triangulation

Decisions are best when they take into account three perspectives: those of your waking identity, using its best common sense; those of trusted and respected others; and those of high scoring emerging potentials. This is referred to in IDL as “triangulation.”  Decision making becomes like a three-legged stool.  You need all three sources of verification.  Without any of them you no longer have a stool; you have firewood.  Most people depend on only two, the opinions of others, whether they be parents, church authorities, bosses, spouses, or elected officials, and their common sense.   They think they use internal sources of validation, which they term their “conscience,” “intuition,” “soul purpose,” “higher self,” “divine guidance,” or “dharma.” Upon close examination, these turn out to be either waking hopes or fears that are justified in terms of some unassailable authority. Very few use the third: consultations with high scoring emerging potentials, mostly because they lack a method to disclose their perspectives and recommendations.


Waking identity rarely consults its broader intrasocial community.

Your “intrasocial community” refers to the multiplicity of perspectives that you can gain access to through interviewing. This number is theoretically unlimited, as is the variety, but practically most people are completely impoverished in this important area. The contact they do have is through osmosis – indirectly through dream experiences and through the perspectives of other people. Generally, they lack the necessary skill set; those few who do often have other priorities.  Most of us believe we manage our lives just fine without having to take the time to listen to emerging potentials. We are not convinced that anything of real value to ourselves and our lives will come that will justify the time and effort. After all, aren’t we only wasting time listening to imaginary fabrications of our own consciousness? Even after multiple interviews, this deeply ingrained bias is still powerful.

A question that is asked in almost every interview is, “Character, why should I listen to you if you are simply a product of my own imagination?” The answer is generally something like, “Do you score as high as I do in these qualities of enlightenment that you seek?” “I am more awake than you are, that’s why.”

When you consult various personifications of your life compass you move from a waking autocracy or dictatorship to a consensual, democratic form of self-governance. The result is the same as is found in waking political structures: the potentials of a state as a whole are enhanced when the competencies and abilities of its individual members are enhanced.

You need to move from a totalitarianism built around the desires and perspectives of waking identity to a consensual democracy built around power sharing with other emerging potentials. 

The common model of self-governance at this stage of our evolution as a species is autocratic.   It is either mid pre-personal and controlled by our emotions and preferences or late pre-personal, and controlled by the desires and opinions of our waking identity. You or I as individuals may have stabilized at a higher developmental level, but as a species culture there are few indications that we are beyond late pre-personal at best. We think consciousness revolves around our waking preferences and world view. Our common way of looking at ourselves is not only narcissistic and grandiose but autocratic and dictatorial. How could it be otherwise if we do not acknowledge the existence of other emerging potentials, much less take the time to listen to them? Isn’t that a good functional definition of repression? The consequences are the same for internal development as they are for authoritarian societies: safety and stability are gained at the cost of growth and innovation.  You are comfortably in control, but stifling your own development. What is required to evolve species consciousness past late pre-personal? There has to be some way to diversify identity beyond self-centeredness. While the protection and extension of human rights does this on a collective level, on an individual level people need a way to move from psychological geocentrism to psychological polycentrism. IDL is one way to support that process.

An effective way to turn experiences of higher states into a stable higher stage of development is to practice consistently identifying with emerging potentials that are already stabilized at a higher stage.

You do this when you read over an interview before sleep and become this or that interviewed emerging potential at times that they specify, such as when you get angry or scared or when you are giving a speech or procrastinating or about to indulge your addiction, whether it is smoking, drinking, sex, computer, TV, drama, arguing, or blaming.

Other people are best approached as if they were characters in your waking dream.

When you assume that the people in your life are characters in your waking dream you are taking responsibility for the fact that you don’t really know who they are.  You are allowing yourself to be comfortable with the fact that your assumptions about who they are and what they are doing are largely delusional, if not profoundly mistaken.  Consequently, you are more likely to ask questions instead of assuming you know, just as you are taught to do in the IDL interviewing process.  You are taught to suspend judgment about why the world is as it is and why people do and say what they do.  You are also more likely to listen instead of react.  You are more likely to stay out of the Drama Triangle and to first recognize and then outgrow your cognitive distortions.

As you treat others you are treating that part of yourself that they most closely personify.

If all you know of me are the assumptions, values, and perceptions that you project onto me, then I am basically an aspect of yourself inhabiting your waking dream.  However, you can interview me as an aspect of yourself and re-own those qualities that you project onto me.  As a result, you are likely to project less and listen more.  You have a chance of hearing something other than the echo of your own biases being validated, and you have a chance of moving beyond shadow-boxing with your own projections into an intimate relationship.

Your habitual waking interpretations are best suspended in favor of the interpretations of various interviewed emerging potentials. 

You are constantly talking to yourself, analyzing words and situations and coming up with interpretations.  If this worked, you wouldn’t be stuck.  It is not that waking interpretation is not useful, only that it is partial.  You need other tools.  But to pick up another tool, say a screwdriver, you first have to stop using that hammer in your hand.  In order to benefit from IDL you have to lay down the hammer of your waking identity so you can pick up the screwdriver of getting fully into role and staying there for the duration of the interview.  Other emerging potentials are pliars, drills, and plumber’s friends. Whatever tool the situation calls for, you have it at your disposal.

People who think they are “integral” tend to be at a mid to late prepersonal level of development in relationship to their intrasocial community.

You may be (but probably aren’t) at a high transpersonal level in relationship to the development of your self line.  However, even if you are, that says nothing about your level of development in relationship to your own intrasocial community, the 90% of your iceberg self of which you take “core samples” when you do IDL interviews.  Chances are, even if you are a lucid dreamer and can stay awake while you are dreaming and deeply asleep, you are still only at late prepersonal in your level of development in relationship to the developmental arc of your larger, intrasocial self.  Maintaining lucidity in dreams is equivalent to the main task of late prepersonal development: awakening to a sense of self.  It is not any more than that.  To develop beyond that, one needs to be an awake member of their dream groups, which means not just being awake or meditating in your dreams.  It means asking dream characters questions while you are dreaming, understanding and fitting into the group dynamics, and working to carry out the group’s agenda both while dreaming and in your waking life.  Do you do this?  Do you know of any enlightened masters who have done this or who currently do this?  If not, this is strongly implies that regardless of the level of development of the self, waking identity of the most advanced spiritual masters is only at late prepersonal (at best) in relationship to intrasocial evolution. Most of the rest of us are at low to mid-prepersonal from an intrasocial perspective.  In other words, we have yet to begin to wake up in the dream realm.


Whoever you are, regardless of your degree of development, you have the same basic set of challenges to address. You get to figure out how to relate to your body, your mind, others, and the world. What IDL is designed to do is continuously increase your tool set for addressing these life challenges.  It does so by generating more sources of support, strengthening your confidence that you are on a life path that reflects the priorities of your life compass, providing powerful strategies for problem solving, and progressively thinning your sense of self so that you are less in your own way. The result of all this is an integration of the sacred and the profane, of the spiritual and the secular, of inner and outer. Here are three qualities in particular by which to evaluate your growth.


Abundance is much more than the absence of scarcity. It is also much more than the absence of the Drama Triangle. It includes the cultivation of fearless confidence as you awaken out of who you are not, compassion as you share your aliveness with your greater self, wisdom as you realize that as you treat others you are treating those aspects of yourself that they represent, growing acceptance of both yourself and others, deepening peace of mind, and the ability to stand back and witness the drama of your life create an experience of abundance that is independent of your physical circumstances, others, and your health.

Think about what your life would be like if you had a consistent, strong sense of the abundance of life. What would be different? It wouldn’t mean that you were blind to scarcity or deprivation, only that they would no longer define or limit your life or your appreciation of living. It wouldn’t be so much a matter of thereby attracting abundance into your life, because you wouldn’t be experiencing a lack of it in the first place. So you wouldn’t be focusing on abundance in order to not experience scarcity; you would not experience scarcity because abundance would be the overwhelming reality for you.

Cosmic Humor

As you continue to become emerging potentials that score higher than you do in core qualities of wakefulness your sense of self thins out. It becomes more transparent. This is because your emerging potentials, while having strong preferences and autonomous world views, have no permanent self like you may think you do. The more transparent you become, the more humorous become all thoughts, feelings, and actions that support the existence of an illusory self. It is not that you or life becomes any less important; in fact, the opposite is the case. What makes living important is abundance, cosmic humor, and luminosity for their own sake, because they reveal the life to itself in the present moment.

Imagine for a moment that regardless of what happened you didn’t personalize it; you didn’t make it about you. How would that change your world? Imagine that in addition to not personalizing life you viewed your natural tendency to do so as humorous. What difference might that make? Again, do not imagine that this is a trivialization of life or a minimizing of the reality of pain, suffering, or genuine tragedy. Instead, think of it as freeing you up to act with more compassion and involvement, because you are helping yourself to get free, to wake up.


When unlimited potential is experienced as clear and empty, it also has a luminosity that places mundane, everyday experience somewhere on the far side of rich. Neither being nor non-being, it is the ground out of which both arise. This luminosity speaks to the quality of the moment, like a great wine or fine chocolate, cute child or playful dog. Everything becomes inherently rich, and more so all the time.

Consider for a moment how your life might be different if each moment had such a deeply satisfying sense of pleasurable richness, simply for being what it is, nothing else. Would it turn you into a useless, unmotivated slug, indulgent in the pleasure of each moment? While some may fear such an outcome, the exact opposite is what actually occurs. You seize each moment with an open hand and open heart, accepting whatever fear, sadness, anger, puzzlement, or confusion might arise. These things never go away, but your attachment to them does. They are part of the luminous, playful, abundance of your rich life.


The story of human development to this point is largely about humans developing a conscious awareness of themselves, mostly mediated by language.  With that knowledge come decisions about whether your actions are congruent with your newly formed self-image or not.  “Does this outfit match my shoes?” “Is my personality likeable?” “Did I screw up?” “How am I doing?” Such concerns were not, and could not be, issues before you developed a self-sense, as can be observed in young children and most animals.  Humans are now in the process of fleshing out the entirety of the arc of self development, from unconscious prepersonal to conscious witnessing as transpersonal causal and non-dual awareness.  This is evolution by and for the self, meaning waking awareness.

The prepersonal, personal, and transpersonal stages described by Wilber are primarily descriptions of the evolution of waking identity.

By and large your conception of your past, present, and future development is a picture painted by your waking awareness and that of innumerable prior generations.  For the most part, it does not take into account the perspectives and priorities of emerging potentials.  There are important exceptions. Muses, channelings, meditation, drugs, and revelations are traditional and powerful ways that humans have gotten in touch with emerging potentials. However, the priority of humanity has been to build a strong sense of self and see the world in terms of its needs so that the self is safe, productive, and comfortable in the world.  Those other sources are generally either viewed as subjective and delusional or concretely objective and “real.” IDL avoids both of these categories because they limit life by forcing it into categories of reality and non-reality.

A broader description uses the developmental dialectic of thesis, antithesis, synthesis.  

Prepersonal, personal, and transpersonal stages are built around the evolution of the self line, which integrates the other lines, including cognitive, moral, emotional, aesthetic, kinesthetic, communicative, empathetic, and the spiritual. The developmental dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis is not built around the self line. For example, you will find it in Dream Sociograms created by the patterns of preference of intrasocial groups that are not centered on waking identity (the self line).

Evolution beyond identification with waking identity is not merely transpersonal consciousness; it represents an entirely new cycle in the evolution of consciousness.

While stages of unfolding will continue once the self is made transparent through causal and non-dual stabilization, it will most likely be mediated by a dialectic meditated by one’s life compass, of which waking identity will contribute one perspective and one pattern of preferences.  This larger self sense is an intrasocially mediated, polycentric self-sense that is revealed by the sociometric method and the IDL interviewing process. Other ways will follow.

IDL, particularly Dream Sociometry, provides a foreshadowing of what that future evolution may look like.  It is polycentric, with growth tending toward those perspectives that transcend and include all preferences.  Dream Consciousness, the part of your greater identity that creates your dreams, is the perspective that is most likely to create such non-preferential preferences.  It is further assumed that this will be a moving target: regardless of how transparent your identity becomes, no matter how unified your intrasocial society becomes, there will always exist voices that are more identified with preferences in relationship to those which are less so.  There will be stages or levels of unfoldment of the intrasocial self, just as there are for waking identity.  I have speculated about some of these in Dream Yoga and the Evolution of Consciousness.  






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