A student of “integral,” meaning someone familiar with the thought of Ken Wilber and, more generally, open to various contemporary forms of psychotherapeutic spiritual transformation, investigated my work by coming across a Dream Sociometric example of a dream I had. She sent her impressions to a mutual friend, who very graciously sent them on to me. I thank both of them for raising some very important questions and issues about the method that those who use Dream Sociometry, and to a lesser extent Integral Deep Listening (IDL) as a whole will encounter. Your students and subjects probably won’t say what follows, but they may well be thinking it, and yon are wise to consider that possibility and how you will respond. Here is the reaction to Dream Sociometry by “Linda” followed by some explanatory comments.
“His lengthy sociogram is cold, dry, masculine, linear, intellectual, time-consuming, and be still my heart!, it has actual charts!!! It even has an Acceptance Axis, Form Axis, Process Axis & Affect Axis!!! Pitter Patter, how I SWOON!!! Where’s the softer side, the feminine side, the intuitive side of dreams being allowed expression in the sociogram?!! To me it is obvious that his anima is communicating almost the same problem to him that I am saying, about him! Where is his heart? Where is his soul being repressed and needing expression? How is his lovingness being expressed? How is he being a pedophile to his own female side, his feminine inner child? She must mouth kiss him to get his attention, which is definitely against his will. because he will not lovingly embrace his feminine, softer side! With such a massive skew towards his intellect, how else could his softer side ‘talk’ to him??? She comes to him in dreams, since he will not allow her any other access. “Because a male’s sensitivity is often lesser or repressed, the anima is one of the most significant autonomous complexes of all. It is said to manifest itself by appearing in dreams.”
Linda is absolutely correct! The methodology is quite masculine – at least as written down. The feminine is not obvious unless one actually does the process. Then it is overwhelmingly present. That is because Dream Sociometry involves suspending your sense of who you are and identifying or becoming various other authentic, relatively autonomous perspectives, which is an act of empathy. In fact it is diagnostic of empathy, a core feminine attribute.
Those who do not have empathy never get into the perspective of this character or that in the first place; without accessing the feminine one is not a candidate for Dream Sociometry at all.
The other feminine part of the work, also not obvious, is in the application, where one surrenders their own agenda to trust and follow those of various perspectives – as long as they make sense and seem helpful.
As far as speaking to and from one’s heart, that all depends on the perspective one identifies with. I have on many occasions felt myself or experienced the entire presence of another person shift dramatically with the process, sometimes toward tears, sometimes toward riotous laughter, often toward deep inner peace. However all yogas, including feminine ones like Bhakti yoga, are disciplines, and Dream Sociometry, as a part of IDL, is definitely a discipline. Anyone who has mastered disciplines like fractions and basic algebra will find this to be much less masculine. Effort becomes relatively inconsequential when the purpose is clear and the results are real.
It is a pity that Linda didn’t first come across a single character interview, many of which are posted here. These have few of the “masculine” features that concern her.
Like all interpretations, Linda’s is her projection onto someone else’s experience. IDL attempts to suspend interpretation in favor of deep listening in an integral and phenomenological sort of way. The result is that we first clear out our interpretations, then listen to those of interviewed characters, then get the feedback of others involved in the process if there are any, and then end with our own interpretations. So interpretation for IDL is unavoidable. However, the amount of distortion and projection that is intrinsic to interpretation can be reduced by following this progression.”
There are several reasons for the “masculine” characteristics of Dream Sociometry. First, human evolution appears to proceed, at least from our vantage point, in dialectal fashion. Wilber calls it the alteration of “types.” The female type, involving grounding, receptivity, community, warmth, emotionality and subjectivity, at some point transforms into the male type, which is, stereotypically speaking, more idealistic, expressive, agentic, purposeful, rational and objective. For Jung, the initial or thesis stage for men transforms into an oppositional or antithetical female stage, in which males confront and identify with their female characteristics, normally more or less repressed. Females do the opposite. The goal is androgyny, or the integration of both male and female characteristics into a balanced, yet evolving sense of self that is ready to repeat this cycle at a higher octave. To the extent that this model has usefulness, it is obvious that the depth and authenticity with which we each dive into the other is going to have important and dramatic effects on how we grow, how quickly we grow and who we become.
Secondly, there probably is some good reason why life took millions and millions of years to develop frontal lobes. They must be good for something. Life did not develop rationality and objectivity as a trap, distraction or way to trample on or ignore the characteristics of the feminine. It did not do so because frontal lobes are “superior” to the limbic brain, to use MacLean’s tripartite brain analogy. So why did life evolve frontal lobes? On a superficial level the frontal lobes allow for linguistically and conceptually-based problem solving, approaches most people would agree are pre-requisites for the rise of what most of us call “civilization.”
A more fundamental reason, often overlooked, is that masculine rationality is a natural outgrowth of the necessity of objectification for evolution. What this means is that what is perceived as “the other,” whether awake, dreaming or in some sort of mystical/near death experience, is naturally incorporated into an expanded sense of self or identity as an inherent aspect of growth. The process looks something like this:
“I am my body.”
“I am not my body; I am an emotional, feeling self that possesses a body.”
“I am not my emotions; I am my name and familial script injunctions that has emotions and a body.”
“I am not my name; the meaning of my life is derived from the groups that define my identity – my gender, race, family, religion, professional gender and nationality.”
“I am not my social roles; I am universal logical principles of behavior, law, mathematics, justice and morality.”
“I am not universal law; I am the living, breathing community of all living beings.”
“I am not all living beings; I am unlimited multiple perspectives, living and non-living, entities and objects.”
“I am not multiple perspectives; I am energy, power and freedom unbounded by space or time.”
“I am not unbounded energy; I am infinite love, compassion and bliss, one with God.”
“I am not God; I am a formless non-self that transcends and includes all experiences of beingness.”
“I am not no-self; I am non-dual, all of the above yet none of them.”
This process of assimilation of “the other,” called “distal” or “distant,” objectified selves into an expanding definition of oneself, called your “proximal,” or currently “real” you, requires the male process of objectification. There is no getting around it.
The Dream Sociometric method as well as the individual IDL Interviewing protocols, take an extraordinarily “feminine” process, dreaming, and consciously, purposefully objectify it, but do so in a very feminine way. Instead of projecting onto the dream our interpretations, which is a very male thing to do, it has us become perspectives that are intrinsic to our experience in the dream, by identifying with one or another or many characters in the dream.
IDL extends this process to life as a whole, by approaching life issues as wake up calls and “dreams” in which we are subjectively enmeshed and by similarly objectifying and interviewing characters from them. The effectiveness of IDL and Dream Sociometry is precisely due to its ability to objectify in a way that honors and incorporates the feminine by becoming and giving voice to perspectives that are products of the feminine context of our nature.
It then further honors the feminine by subordinating our priorities to those of the triangulated recommendations of interviewed characters, as demonstrated in our life through the application of their recommendations. The result is androgyny – a marrying of the feminine and male attributes of experience in a methodical, deliberate way that is designed to neutralize personal blocks of all kinds, unleash emerging potentials, and support our collective evolution out of pain and into the light.
Such identification, while powerful and highly supportive of our individual growth process, is not enough. That is why IDL contains elements for recognizing and reducing enslavement in script injunctions, cognitive distortions and life goals that do not reflect the priorities of emerging potentials. It is why IDL also teaches meditation and observation of breath. A multi-perspectival approach to healing, growth and transformation is necessary if we are to meet the multiple, severe challenges that we as a species have created for ourselves. All of these one components of IDL, of which Dream Sociometry is one aspect, are explained in Waking Up.