Ken Wilber Applauds the Transformation Experience

Published on: June 1, 2011

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Jane and I recently had the awesome experience of meeting with Ken Wilber at his home in Denver, Colorado. The meeting came on the heels of a two-hour phone dialogue where Ken and I discussed my formulation of an integral model of ministry and its implementation in Unity Worldwide Ministries’ Pilot Program. Ken was eager to learn firsthand how the Pilot Program was unfolding saying, “this is the first intentional effort to bring forth a second tier [enlightened] organizational paradigm congruent with integral theory.” What Ken found so unique and groundbreaking about the model and the Transformation Experience (TE) was its whole-system approach to organizational development that is aligned with spiritual principles.

WilberKenUseThisPhotoKen shared that, to his knowledge, no one has come as far in mapping a developmental pathway to second tier organizational structure and practice. He was impressed with the emphasis on leadership development as the foundation of a thriving ministry.

Ken explained that moving to any enlightened perspective requires not only a movement toward greater spiritual maturity, but also an actual leap in consciousness. This leap is not possible unless the church’s leadership is actively engaged in spiritual practice and shadow work. “The need for shadow work is a message that you would have to convey to your ministries if they are to grow spiritually. It is impossible to fully actualize second tier imperatives without the church’s leaders leading the way in this [shadow work].”

I shared how each ministry in the Pilot Program has an Art & Practice Ambassador trained in facilitating a 21-Day aware-apy activity called the Q Process™—a methodology for shadow work—and how this has equipped leaders to differentiate between issues that arise from the organization’s pain body and their own shadow material.

Prior to my visit with Ken, I sent him a video of a training module I created for our TE consultant guides on how shadow work can lead to greater organizational coherence and integrity. The module is called Integral Wizardry™ and helps community leaders to work consciously with issues and embrace challenges as evolutionary forces rather than problems to resolve. Here’s what Ken said:

I saw the video you sent where you were addressing the importance for people to allow discomfort and not run away from it—because, actually the discomfort is pointing toward where work needs to be done. We need to look at it, embrace it, be aware of it and work with it. When we do that, it’s not a bad thing—in a sense, sort of a Geiger counter—when it goes off, this is where the gold is, the good stuff. Shadow work is really one of the most fundamental things an individual has to take into account in order to be able to grow, really at all.

Ken was impressed with three elements of the Transformation Experience.

First, the developmental goals and milestones are clearly defined and informed by a coherent integral map of ministry development. In each of the four quadrants—leadership consciousness (UL), church identity and culture (LL), community dynamics (LR), and organizational structures, practices and systems (UR)—is an integrally informed protocol for facilitating stage shifts (refer to graphic on page 9 of this issue). Ken emphasized the importance of educating the community about spiritual and organizational development. “When individuals just study any developmental map—any of them—it actually accelerates their development. So just learning that there are developmental stages for the organization, as well as for the individuals within them, gets them moving.” Ken thought that the teaching of psycho-spiritual stages of development should be a part of what a ministry offers its community that would lead to a more mature congregation. “A function of the church should be to show how the mind develops and evolves, and invite people to get involved in the process,” he added.

The second element of the Transformation Experience that pleased Ken was the effort to facilitate organizational transformation via the Enlightened Leaders Program and the movement toward integral structures and organizational practices. I shared with Ken the elements of our Integral Board Training module that is being introduced to the Pilot Program ministries and emphasizes the importance of explicit accountabilities and requisite structures, and how this emphasis creates greater coherence and congruence between the leadership and the spiritual community. Ken noted that whenever leaders become conscious and intentional about the quality of the resonance field that they embody, they naturally aspire to align in greater integrity with best practices.

The third element emphasizes shadow work as foundational to spiritual growth and maturity. Ken was quite articulate regarding the importance of teaching about the stages of human development and making shadow work a part of the community’s practice and culture.

Ken’s generosity of time and personal support has been gratifying to me and a blessing to Unity Worldwide Ministries and the Transformation Experience.

Gary Simmons

Rev Dr Gary Simmons is co-minister with wife Rev Dr Jane Simmons of Unity Spiritual Center Spokane, WA. He cofounded The Q Effect LLC and co-created The Q Process™. He facilitated transition consulting and church growth processes. He authored The I of the Storm and The Soul’s Conspiracy.


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