Achieving individual potential through integral evolution

Evolution does not automatically lead to the unlocking of potential

Personality development can only begin when evolution is integral .

Theoretically, any progression in time associated with biological change can be described as evolution.

Humans develop from a few cells, become babies, and eventually grow up. Basically, at first glance “everything is there” and “everything is inside”. In principle, this refers to a rather rudimentary biological development, which occurs as a matter of course in most people.. 

But is that really all? Most people associate the term evolution with a certain transformation. After all, a butterfly is quite different from a caterpillar. 

Metamorphosis

The transformation of the caterpillar into a butterfly is a good metaphor for the fact that much more can be demanded of evolution than the sum of its parts.

But many people do not manage to become butterflies. They simply become larger caterpillars.  

Alchemy of transformation

The problem – or the secret – lies in the alchemy of transformation. Alchemical transformation means that something completely new is created from a substance. More is created than the sum of individual parts. 

There are two important elements here: 

  1. The individual parts
  2. The process

In the case of human development, the human regulatory systems such as the nervous system, psyche, hormonal system etc. are the individual parts. The process is the same as growing up. 

If individual parts are defective or incomplete, the process will not proceed as originally intended. If human control systems are not fully functional, humans do not grow into their potential, but only near to it. 

Integral instead of disassociative

Integral is another word for holistic. But also for whole and undamaged. Integral also means that all individual parts have been “integrated”, i.e. networked with each other.

Correspondingly, evolution that is integral is greater than evolution that is not. The latter can be described as disintegrative. Here processes run side by side and the individual aspects are dissociated (split off).

So then, integral evolution is a process that strives for the physiological and optimal functioning of our individual parts. All our control systems need this functional capability so that they can then network with each other and subsequently transform us as humans. 

Only when the interaction of all our biological, emotional, mental and spiritual parts is functioning can personality development take place. 

Evolution as a process

If alchemical transformation is to take place, the process will not be arbitrary.

Anyone who has ever baked a cake without using a recipe and ended up with something inedible knows this. Or anyone who has built an Ikea cupboard without the instructions and finishes up with the side with the holes on the outside. 

What we need to remember is that the order and method of “preparation” is as important as the ingredients. Nothing else basically says ontogenesis, the doctrine of the evolution of the individual. Evolution takes place in steps that need to happen in a specific order. They are determined by the human blueprint, commonly associated with our genes. 

Genes determine what happens (man or mouse?), while epigenetic processes determine how it happens (healthy or sick men and mice). In any case, this is the view of modern epigenetics, which today assumes that much of what was originally attributed to genes is actually epigenetic processes. 1Lipton, Intelligent cells, P. 51

Thus, the genes determine the sequence and the epigenetics the type of “preparation”. This applies both to the individual control systems themselves and to their interaction within the human organism.

Evolution as a systematic modular system

A specific feature of evolution is also that subsequent evolutionary steps build on previous evolutionary steps, while previous evolutionary steps simultaneously merge into subsequent ones. 

Our “three brains” (triune brain theory) are a very good example of this. Here evolution has designed our brain development as a building block, with the first building block we develop being responsible for our immediate survival (reptilian). The next development of our brain leads to alimentary behaviour and reproduction (palaeomammalian). Finally, the third brain (neomammalian) leads to strategic thinking, planning and higher forms of communication. The neomammalian brain is the standard mode for a developed individual. If, however, situations arise where a good plan and fine words are no longer helpful, we resort if necessary to our reptilian brain, which is controlled by instinct: it leads to fight or flight, in the last instance also to death. 2Triune Brain Theory and its current representative Steven Porges with his Polyvagal Theory, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triune_brain,

Another good example is the development of the upright gait. We would never be able to walk if we hadn’t sat before and ideally crawled. Later in life we will rarely crawl, but we are still able to do it.  

Ultimately, control systems are what allow this nested system. Once a control system has developed for itself, it is networked and thus provides the basis for growth for a control system that has not yet been developed, with the sequence being determined by our genes.  

Adaptation in all life situations

Through integral evolution we are able to adapt flexibly to all situations in life.

To stick to our example of the “triune brain” above, integral evolution enables an appropriate response to our environment. We understand when it is time to talk or to escape and, if necessary, to fight. We do not have to become a warhorse, nor a masochistic pacifist.. 

In principle, this flexibility is already the first step towards tapping our full potential by being able to draw on everything that is within us. Real alchemical change occurs when we bring these talents into the world in our own way.  

But how much development must there be for potential to be unlocked?

The technical term for this is maturity; self-regulation is also part of it. 

There is more about this here.

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Source of image: IStock, Licence from 29.11.18