Integral Visions and Nonduality

Rolf Sattler

My Core Message:

The Big Picture: An Integral Nondual Worldview

including perspectivism, complementarity, both/and logic, fuzzy logic, dynamic wholeness, health and holiness (sacredness).

Goehausen pointed out that in order to have an impact an author or movement needs a short, succinct, and simple core message. Thus, for example, Ramana Maharshi’s core message was self-inquiry, asking the question “Who am I?” Gangaji's core message is silent awareness (that includes everything). The core message can, of course, be elaborated upon, but it needs to be kept in focus to have an impact.

Since everything seems interconnected, it appears somewhat arbitrary to single out one core message. However, if I had to choose a core message, I would say it involves the big picture,
integral visions and nonduality. Visually this can be represented in the form a mandala: the centre of the mandala representing the unnamable (which remains mysterious), and the periphery the namable. The unnamable and the namable are not two (not dual), but one, that is, they remain integrated. One could also say they represent different perspectives on reality and thus they complement one another: reality appears both unnamable and namable. In the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu (Laozi) put it this way (according to Lin Yutang’s translation):

“The two (the Secret [which is the unnamable] and its manifestations [the namable])
Are (in their nature) the same.”

In other words: the unnamable and the namable form a wholeness (oneness), which entails holiness (the sacred).

“There is only one bliss in the world, and that bliss comes by becoming whole” (Rajneesh 1984, p. 462)

Instead of referring to the unnamable and the namable I could use the analogy of the ocean and its waves (see, for example, Foster 2012). When we are alienated from the source of reality (the centre of the mandala, the unnamable), we experience ourselves like a separate wave. But the wave is not separate from the ocean, it is one with the ocean and in this sense includes the ocean. One big challenge in life: to re-member that we are not separate form the ocean, not separate from the centre of the mandala, the unnamable, the mysterious. The ocean analogy and the mandala can be very helpful to reinforce this re-membrance. "We should learn to see everyday life as mandala - the luminous fringes of experience which radiate spontaneously from the empty nature of our being" (Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche). Then we could see every event in our life - our thoughts, emotions, etc. - as an expression of the unnamable source, which means that we are not totally caught and lost in any particular thought, emotion, etc. We can see beyond it. We can see that we are always infinitely more than just a thought, emotion, etc. Through witnessing we can overcome the identification with thoughts or emotions. To recognize that the witness and the witnessed are one (not two), we collapse the witness in the witnessed. Nonduality figures prominently in the Heart Sutra. According to many translations of the Heart Sutra, “Form [the namable] is emptiness [the unnamable], emptiness is form” (see, for example, Brunnhölzl 2012 or Gyatso, Tenzin, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama 2005). Nondual traditions and modern nondualists come to the same conclusion (see, for example, Kersschot 2004, Foster 2012). Tanahashi (2016) referred to boundlessness instead of emptiness because emptiness can be misunderstood in the West. In Buddhism it means having no separate existence. Hence it is boundless.

Nonduality is not just an idea or philosophy but a way of living out of the source, where the source and its efflux (the manifest world) are not two, or in other words, where we are connected to all and therefore are not strangers in this world because "each moment is the universe" (Katagiri Roshi 2007), or as Ramana Maharshi put it, we are "always already home" (see Hendricks and Johncock 2005).

Integral visions emphasize the interconnectedness and integration of everything. Whereas integral visions are presented conceptually through language, nonduality transcends the limitations of language and concepts (see Holden).

Now how do Integral Visions and Nonduality relate to the topics of
my website and myself?

Integral Visions

A major part of my website deals with integral visions, which is not merely integral philosophy in an intellectual understanding sense but all-inclusive. "
Integral" may have various more or less restricted meanings (see, for example, Kazlev 2007, 2009). I use "integral" in the widest sense, which I consider more inclusive than Ken Wilber's (2007) vision that is presented in his AQAL Map of the Kosmos. According to this map, integral philosophy comprises all levels and dimensions of reality (AQAL is the abbreviation for "all quadrants" (dimensions) and "all levels"). Wilber presented different versions of his AQAL map (Wilber 2006, 2007, 2012, etc.). In the most comprehensive version he distinguished four quadrants (dimensions) and more than a dozen levels. In a simple version he identified three dimensions and three levels. The three dimensions are self, nature, and culture; or art, science, and morals. The three levels (with regard to the self) are body, mind, and spirit. Wilber related them in terms of a hierarchy (holarchy). I added additional integrative perspectives to Wilber's AQAL map to render it even more integral, and I emphasized the complementarity of these perspectives (see my essay on Ken Wilber's AQAL Dogma). Therefore, I would suggest that a more appropriate title for Ken Wilber's The Integral Vision (2007) would have been An Integral Vision (or One Integral Vision), which leaves room for other complementary integral visions. Note that for the subtitle of my website I chose Integral Visions, which I consider complementary.


Nonduality is fundamental to Ken Wilber’s integral vision as it is to mine, including my recent free online book
Wholeness, Fragmentation, and the Unnamable: Holism, Materialism, and Mysticism - A Mandala, in which I see materialism and mechanism (that to a great extent still appear entrenched in our mainstream culture and science) and holism (that seems more or less prevalent in our alternative culture and holistic science) as two complementary perspectives of the namable and I consider mysticism as the unnamable (the mysterious). As I pointed out above, the namable and the unnamable can be understood as nondual (see my essay on AQAL Map by Ken Wilber integrates the Unnamable and Namable).

The Dynamic Mandala

In the Introduction to the above Mandala book and in Chapters 4 and 5 of my free ebook
Wilber’s AQAL Map and Beyond I presented a dynamic mandala that allows for many transformations, each of which produces a different mandala. Thus, the whole set of mandalas can be seen as a mandala of mandalas.

Perspectivism and Complementarity

Perspectivism implying the principle of
complementarity recognizes that different transformations of the dynamic mandala represent different perspectives on reality that complement one another. Thus endless quarrels of who is right are superseded. Obviously perspectivism and complementarity lead to a more tolerant and more peaceful life and society (see my essays on Complementarity and Perspectivism and Complementarity: AQAL, the Big Tube, and the Dynamic Mandala). The following concepts are implied in or related to the principle of complementarity.

Yin/Yang Thinking, Both/And Logic, Buddhist and Jain Logic

Different ways of thinking, different kinds of logic, complement each other.
Yin-Yang thinking, both/and logic, Buddhist logic and Jain logic complement and transcend Aristotelian either/or logic.

Either/or and Yin/Ynag thinking

Fig. 3. The diagram to the left represents Aristotelian either/or logic, whereas the Yin-Yang symbol to the right illustrates both/and logic (as the Yin is contained within the Yang and vice versa) and fuzzy logic (as the Yin gradually merges with the Yang and vice versa, see below). Yin and Yang complement one another.

Whereas Aristotelian logic has only two values (either – or), Buddhist logic (as elaborated by Nagarjuna) has four values: either, or, both/and, neither/nor. Neither/nor points to the unnamable.

According to Jain logic,
for every proposition seven perspectives, seven logical values, have to be acknowledged. They are:
"in some ways it is"
2. "in some ways it is not"
3. "in some ways it is and it is not"
4. "in some ways it is and it is indescribable"
5. "in some ways it is not and it is indescribable"
6. "in some ways it is, it is not and it is indescribable"
7. "in some ways it is indescribable"
Indescribable means unnamable, mysterious. Note that the mysterious is not that which is not yet known, but the unknowable, unnamable and
unspeakable (as Korzybski put it). Hence, the importance of silence (see below).

Examples of propositions: “It is true;” “It is beautiful;” “He is dishonest;” “He is evil;” etc. For each of these propositions, seven perspectives would have to be recognized to provide a more complete picture of the situation. Thus, with regard to the proposition “He is evil,” we would have to conclude: “In some ways he evil,” “in some ways he is not evil,” “in some ways he is and is not evil,” “in some ways he is evil and indescribable,” “in some ways he is not evil and indescribable,” ‘in some ways he is and is not evil and indescribable,” and “in some ways he is indescribable.”

Healing Thinking

In my essay on
Healing Thinking through both/and logic, Buddhist and Jain logic I pointed out how these kinds of logic unite, make whole and holy what either/or logic has torn apart. Jain logic even includes the indescribable (unnamable), and the neither/nor of Buddhist logic also refers to the unnamable. Yin and Yang, forming a circle or being enclosed within a circle, indicate wholeness, the Dao, which remains unnamable, mysterious.

Fuzzy logic can also be healing because like the above kinds of logic it also unites what Aristotelian either/or logic has torn apart (see my essay on Healing Thinking through Fuzzy Logic)

Fuzziness (Continuum)

Fuzzy logic referring to fuzziness applies to many aspects of life and living (see
Fuzziness and Exactness). It has also been very important in my morphological research (see Plant Morphology, Plant Evo-Devo and my Morphological Research, From Plant Morphology to Infinite Issues, Philosophy of Plant Morphology) because fuzzy logic demonstrates the continuum that is cut into pieces by categorical either/or logic. This continuum complements and transcends the categories of either/or thinking that can be useful but have only limited validity.

Process (Dynamics)

Structural thinking needs to be complemented and transcended by
process thinking that reveals structures as process or process combinations. Thus, for example, plant structures such as roots, stems, and leaves are seen as process combinations (see my essay on Plant Morphology).

Process thinking applies to everything. Since verbs, in contrast to nouns, refer to processes, a purely verb-based language would more adequately represent the dynamics of reality (see essay on
Process Language). Processes interconnect, and therefore a process view and experience of reality reveal more unity and oneness and may even point to the unnamable source out of which the dynamics of reality arises (Shinzen Young 1997, session 18, 2016).


However, ordinary language - and to some extent even a process language if it could be created - have inherent limitations
that have been well demonstrated by Korzybski’s Structural Differential. Thus, “Whatever you might say something “is”, it is not (Korzybski 1958, p. 409; see also Kodish and Kodish 2011 and my essays on Healing Thinking through Non-Identity (Korzybski) and Healthy Language-Behaviour and Spirituality). Or simply, whatever you say it is, it is not. “It” may be anything: a flower, a person (I, you, he, she), a group of persons (we, they), a religion, philosophy, ideology, an organization, a nation, the earth, the universe, etc. Whatever you say it is, it is not. If you say the universe is one, it is not because oneness is only one of its attributes, not its is-ness (being). Therefore, in spite of the great importance of oneness, “do not be attached even to this One”(Sengtsan, quoted by McFarlane 2002, p. 150). We have to acknowledge both the One and the Many as two perspectives on reality (see, for example, Arber 1967).

Also, whatever I say I am, I am not. Knowing that what I
say I am, I am not, opens the door to self enquiry beyond words, beyond language, the self-enquiry Ramana Maharshi had in mind. Such self-inquiry has the potential to lead to radical insight and self-transformation (listen to the guided meditation by Adyashanti I referred to above).

Speech, Sound, and Silence

Another way to transcend the limitations of speech is through experiencing speech not in terms of its meaning but as sound. Sound connects to universal sound (vibration) and comes out of silence, the infinite spaciousness of clear light and the kosmic mind, or, in other words, the unnamable (see my essay on Body, Speech, and Mind). Amaro (2012) referred to the “sound of silence” (see also Rajneesh 1984, pp. 204-212; Osho on Silence).

Limitations of Science

Science, as we usually know it, uses language and therefore deals only with the namable. Furthermore, usually it is based only on objective external sense data. Wilber (2001) referred to this kind of science as narrow science. In contrast, broad science also includes subjective experience of our internal world. This internal science may investigate also spiritual experience. According to Shinzen Young (2016, p. 103), it may even help to reach spiritual enlightenment through the practice of mindfulness (awareness, focus, and presence) and equanimity (internal non-interference), which may lead to insight and purification, which eventually may lead to enlightenment. As is often the case even in the physical sciences, the prediction about reaching enlightenment can be made only in terms of probabilities, not certainty. And it seems that the chances of reaching full enlightenment are rather low. But one may at least deepen one's insight and purification and thus progress towards enlightenment.


Arts also have the potential to lead us toward en-lightenment. Especially music and visual arts that do not rely on language provide a more direct access to deeper domains of human and kosmic* existence. And to some extent even poetry may free us from the constraints and limitations of language in as much as it invokes sound, rhythm, and silence between words, phrases, and sentences (see my essay on Language transcending Logic…) .

* Like Ken Wilber (2000, p. 45), I write “kosmic” with a “k” to indicate that it includes not only the physical cosmos of physicists but all dimensions of human existence and reality.


There are many aspects or facets of Health, including science, the arts, and spirituality. My essay on Health and Sanity of Body, Speech, and Mind offers a comprehensive overview of health and sanity, including physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. Health, holos (wholeness) and holiness (the 3 h's) are deeply related. According to Chinese medicine, health is understood as wholeness and balance.


Wholeness should be understood as dynamic wholeness. In this sense David Bohm (1981) referred to holomovement (or holoflux).

In its most profound sense, "Wholeness and Nonduality, which, including all of reality, conveys a sense of utter freedom" (Wilber 2017, p. 5). Kelly (2015) shows us how to glimpse and maintain such
freedom that entails a "shift out of the separate, small sense of self that makes you feel alienated, alone, anxious, and fearful into the support of awake awareness that is already calm, alert, loving, and wise. Once you shift into freedom, your true nature spontaneously emerges as a vast, interconnected ground of being" (Kelly 2015, p. 6).

Wholeness may not only relate to nonduality but also to
holiness (the sacred) because experiencing or being whole creates a feeling of awe and wonder in reverence of the unnamable, mysterious whole. We can become aware of wholeness and holiness spontaneously and/or through the practice of various forms of meditation. According to Osho (2000, p. 153), dance and laughter are two easily approachable doors to meditation and oneness (see also Laughter Quotes and Quotes on Health and Healing and Laughter Yoga).


Adyashanti. Guided meditation.

Amaro, Ajahn. 2012.
Inner Listening. Meditation on the Sound of Silence. Amaravati Buddhist Monastery.

Arber, A. 1967.
The Manifold and the One. Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House.

Bohm, D. 1981.
Wholeness and the Implicate Order. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Brunnhölzl, K. 2012.
The Heart Attack Sutra. A New Commentary on the Heart Sutra. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.

Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche. Dzogchen practice in everyday life.

Foster, J. 2012.
The Deepest Acceptance. Radical Awakening in Ordinary Life. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.

Gyatso, Tenzin, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. 2005.
Essence of the Heart Sutra. Translated and edited by Geshe Thupten Jinpa. Boston: Wisdom Publications.

Hendricks, G. and Johncock, P. 2005.
Already Home. Radiant Wisdom and Life-Changing Meditations from Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargadatta, and Teachers of the Advaita Tradition. London: Hay House.

Holden, K. (ed.). Gleanings from Robert Wolfe's Abiding in Nondual Awareness.

Katagiri, Dainin Roshi 2007.
Each Moment is the Universe. Zen and the Way of Being Time. Boston & Londpon: Shambhala.

Kazlev, A. 2007. Redefining Integral.

Kazlev, A. 2009. The integral approach/integral themes.

Kelly, L 2015.
Shift into Freedom. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.

Kersschot, J. 2004.
This Is It. The Nature of Oneness. London: Watkins Publishing.

Kodish, S.P. & B.I Kodish. 2011. Drive Yourself Sane. Pasadena, CA: Extensional Publishing.

Korzybski, A. 1958. Science and Sanity. 4th edition. The International Non-Aristotelian Library Publishing Company (CD-ROM edition:

McFarlane, T. J. 2002.
Einstein and Buddha. The Parallel Sayings. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press.

Osho. 2000.
Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.

Rajneesh, Bagwan Shree. 1984. The Book. Series III. Rajneesh Foundation International.

Tanahashi, K. 2016. The Heart Sutra. A Comprehensive Guide to the Classic of Mahayana Buddhism. Boulder, CO: Shambhala

Wilber, K. 2000.
Sex, Ecology, Spirituality. Boston & London: Shambhala.

Wilber, K. 2001. A Theory of Everything. Boston: Shambhala.

Wilber, K. 2006
. Integral Spirituality. Boston: Integral Books..

Wilber, K. 2007.
The Integral Vision. Boston & London: Shambhala.

Wilber, K. 2012.
The Integral Approach. A Short Introduction by Ken Wilber. Boston & London: Shambhala.

Wilber, K. 2017.
The Religion of Tomorrow. Boulder, CO: Shambhala.

Young, Shinzen. 2016.
The Science of Enlightenment. How Meditation Works. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.

Yutang, Lin. 1948.
The Wisdom of Laotse. New York: Modern Library.

See also
my publications, Questions and Answers (Q&A), and Lessons from the 20th century for the 21st century.

Latest update of this webpage on November 24, 2022.


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