Goals for Collective Development

Families, organizations, and nations are collectives that have goals that include yet transcend those of the individuals who comprise them. When we only focus on self-development our priorities are likely to be out of sink with, or at cross-purposes to, the priorities of the collectives to which we belong.

Coordinating personal and collective goals so that they synergistically support each other in healing, balancing, and transcendence requires a knowledge of both. In most cases, ignoring that relationship generates results that are satisfactory in the short and mid-term. However, long-term, sustainable personal and collective healing, balancing, and transformation require knowledge of and coordination with the priorities of our own life compass. This is because individual and collective goals can be in sync and still be at cross purposes to both personal and macrocosmic collective life compass. One only has to remember the experience of Germany in the 1940’s and of modern Israel to understand how disastrous the results can be.

China provides an example of how effective the integration of personal and collective goals can be, even without access to the priorities of individual and collective life compass. IDL asks, “How much more effective and sustainable will our goal setting be when we take the priorities of life compass into account?

When we look at the ten competencies of IDL through a collective lens rather than one of personal development we arrive at a clearer and broader understanding of how IDL relates to humanity as a whole:

Scripting: Religions and nations follow scripts just as do individuals. When those scripts are toxic, or built on unexamined assumptions, collective decision-making runs into unnecessary and tragic consequences just as is the case for individuals. A notable example is Western national scripts that use a self-image as democratic actors to justify and rationalize economic and military exploitation that generates resentment and persistent opposition.

Drama: Closely related are religious and national scripts that generate collective identities as Rescuers within the Drama Triangle. Nations and religions may view themselves as rescuing the oppressed, ignorant, and ‘primitive,” and be first baffled and then outraged when they find their “help” unappreciated, being perceived as Persecutors instead of Rescuers, and then finally being used to justify a collective identification with the helplessness and powerlessness of the role of Victim.

Cognitive Distortions: When religions and nations separate the good from the bad, the sheep from the goats, and allies from enemies they indulge in a prepersonal emotional cognitive distortion called “polarization,” which is a form of splitting off of identity and at its worst manifests as a form of Manichaeism. Groupthink is a collective cognitive bias that easily infects religions and nations. Ad hominem, a variety of logical fallacy that involves changing the subject rather than addressing the argument itself, is a form of blaming of the Other, a tactic often found in both religions and nations.

Goal Setting: When religions and nations set long-term goals of supremacy they sow the seeds of their eventual collapse. When religions and nations fail to set realistic goals regarding their own global influence or only set short-term goals, they set themselves up for the same sorts of problems confronted by us as individuals. The difference is that the consequences of poorly conceived or unrealistic goals by religions and nations affect the well-being of masses of people instead of only ourselves and our immediate relationships.

Assertiveness: Most of what passes for assertiveness by religions and nations is either aggressiveness or passivity, masked as confidence. However, the “confidence” associate with both aggressiveness and even passivity, in the sense of non-violence or focus on personal development rather than interpersonal and societal development, while often sincere and convincing, tends to be reactive and fear-based. Learning how to differentiate genuine confidence within religions and nations from reactive and superficial confidence is as important as learning personal assertiveness.

Triangulation: Religions and nations generally make decisions based on their own identity and sense of mission in the world. This is only one approach to problem solving. Very few take into account the objective feedback of the sense of identity and mission of other nations and religions. None have developed a recognition of the importance of learning to consult emerging potentials intrinsic to their own development or a collective life compass, in order to generate superior problem-solving to ignore pitfalls that nations and religions typically and tragically fall into.

Interviewing: IDL interviewing is based on a demonstration of reciprocal respect and a demonstrated capacity for empathy. Both of these capabilities are notably absent from most religions and nations. On a collective level, when nations and religions involve in dialogue with the Other at that depth, as approximated by the South African Truth and Reconciliation process, they are approximating on a collective level something parallel to IDL interviewing.

Meditation: Most fundamentally, meditation is the cultivation of abstract objectivity. The development of objectivity is fundamental to human development. As children we learn to first objectify our bodies and its sensations by identifying with our emotions. We then learn to objectify our emotions by identifying with our familial, cultural, and social scripting. We then learn to objectify our scripting by identifying with our thoughts. We then learn to objectify our thinking by learning to ask questions and not believe everything we think. We then learn to objectify our questioning by meditation, which is a process of disidentification from all of these various identities and processes.

Collectives, including religions and nations, go through a similar developmental process. Very few move beyond identification with their socio-cultural scripting, but doing so is possible. The first step is to recognize this developmental progression and to realize it is occurring on a collective level just as it occurs in our own lives. We can then work to cultivate collective objectivity.

Meditation is abstract objectivity in that it is not focused on any specific life situation or experience. To do so is to defeat its purpose of the generation of disidentification from thought, feeling, and daily drama.

Pranayama: Observation of breath is a form of yoga and meditation. However, it is less abstract in that it intentionally grounds one in the body, its sensations, and the various cycles of life, including those of a day, seasons, and a lifetime. Religions, nations, worldviews, and civilizations go through life cycles as well, and the practice of pranayama can awaken us to a collective awareness of and harmonization with those cycles. The result is that collectives are less likely to fight these cyclic life processes but instead learn to flow in harmony with them.

Intention: While nations and religions set collective intent, as in The Pledge of Allegiance and The Apostle’s Creed, these are generally repetitions of scripted groupthink that do not reflect or support member or collective self-awareness. If we as individuals do not examine our intentions, as expressed by our actual behavior rather than the intentions we profess, and then take steps to make the two congruent, how can we expect the collectives to which we belong and which to a large extent control our fate to examine their intentions and establish functional and currently appropriate ones?

Placing your personal encounter with the ten core competencies of IDL within a collective framework that includes but transcends your own personal development is a way of learning to live for ends that far transcend your own personal life and death. They make your life and your efforts at grounding your dream yoga and integral life practice important not merely for yourself but for the future of humanity as a whole.

For more information, contact joseph.dillard@gmail.com. While IDL does not accept advertising or sponsored postings, we gratefully accept donations of your time, expertise, or financial support.