In this blog entry, I wish to establish the precise need for the Null Level (i.e. Band 3, Level 3) in development.

Basically, the Circular Level (Band 3, Level 1) is devoted to achieving a certain specialisation with respect to the dynamic two-way interaction of the horizontal polarities (external and internal).

These mainly operate within a given level of development. However because a necessary interaction necessarily exists as between both the horizontal and vertical polarities, attempted specialisation in this regard, leads to an unexpected vertical aspect also operating between stages, that are - relatively - "higher" and "lower" with respect to each other.

Indeed this is one of the reasons why the experience of the "dark night of the soul" can initially prove so confusing.

One starts off by thinking that one has now reached a "higher" level of contemplative spiritual development, requiring a significant amount of purgation (i.e. cleansing of ego attachment) for its benefits to be properly realised. However one quickly finds that in the process as if the floor has literally opened under one so that one becomes deeply immersed in earlier "lower" levels. And because one is not directly prepared for this, uncertainty thereby grows as to whether one is in effect making genuine spiritual progress.

So one gradually realises that the very tendency to identify development rigidly with higher and lower stages in a discrete manner is itself a significant problem that must be addressed.

Therefore with the next Point Level (Band 3, Level 2) one now is prepared to attain a new specialisation with respect to the vertical polarities of whole and part (or alternatively collective and individual, general and particular etc.) that operate in a two-way interactive manner between complementary levels, that are now understood as "higher and "lower" in a strictly relative manner.

This is a crucial point on which considerable confusion still reigns within Integral Studies. Here the mistaken view is frequently given that increasing holistic capacity in development operates in just one direction, where each higher stage thereby transcends and includes the corresponding lower stage. However as I have stated before this leads to an unbalanced emphasis on merely "top-down" integration.

However there is an equally important complementary aspect to holistic capacity, where each higher stage is made immanent and thereby included in the corresponding lower stage. This then leads to a counterbalancing emphasis on "bottom-up" integration with respect to development.

And both of these necessary aspects can only be properly reconciled by understanding "higher" and "lower" in a truly relative manner. So just as "left" and "right" turns at a crossroads depend on the direction (N or S) from which the crossroads is approached, likewise "higher" and "lower" likewise have an arbitrary relative meaning, depending on the direction of development (transcendent or immanent) from which they are approached.

Let me briefly emphasise the distinction here! With the transcendent aspect, one comes to see the "higher" whole as going beyond mere identification of its constituent parts in phenomenal terms. Ultimately, this leads to an utterly formless notion of the whole notion (as beyond all phenomenal constituents).

However with the immanent aspect - in reverse fashion - one comes to see the "higher" whole as being immanent (i.e. deeply inherent) in each individual part. Indeed it is this realisation that gives each part a unique spiritual identity, so that we can ultimately see as with William Blake "a whole world in a grain of sand".

So properly understood (i.e. in complementary relative fashion) the whole in this context is "lower" with respect to each individual part which is now - relatively "higher".

In other words we must once again emphasise both "top-down" and "bottom-up" integration.

So certainly we must go beyond in development and continually strive to integrate "lower" stages from this newly attained "higher" perspective.

However equally we must go beneath, as it were, in development and continually strive to properly ground and thereby integrate in "bottom-up" fashion - what we initially identify as - the "higher" stages, from the perspective of continually revisited "lower" stages. Thus in fact from this latter perspective, the "higher" understanding now relates to a new enhanced appreciation of the most recent revisited earlier stages in development.

Indeed from my own perspective - which I imagine would in truth be the general experience - I have found it more difficult properly coming to terms with the earliest stages, which I misleadingly once viewed as lower, than the latest stages to unfold (which I again once in a somewhat elitist fashion viewed unambiguously as the highest and thereby most advanced).

So there are two equally important directions with respect to the horizontal polarities. So we must try and integrate the external aspect with the internal aspect; likewise we must try and integrate - in reverse manner - the internal with the external.

Likewise there are two important directions with respect to the vertical polarities. So me must try and integrate the individual part notions with the collective whole (in transcendent fashion); however equally we must try and integrate the collective whole notion with each individual part in immanent fashion (thereby enhancing appreciation of its spiritual uniqueness).

However the problem that emerges, is that with respect to development, both of these sets of polarities undergo specialisation initially in a somewhat separate manner.

Thus predominantly with Level 1, the emphasis is on two-way integration with respect to the horizontal polarities (external and internal), within a given level.

Then at Level 2, the emphasis is now on two-way integration with respect to the vertical polarities (whole and part), between complementary "higher" and "lower" levels .

So the next major task is to achieve the combined integration with respect to both horizontal and vertical polarities simultaneously.

Another way of expressing this, is that emphasis now switches directly to diagonal integration with respect to development.

This now requires an 8-dimensional perspective in holistic mathematical terms, where again the reduced linear expression of these dimensions is given in terms of the corresponding eight roots of 1.

Now we have already dealt with 4 of these roots (relating to the horizontal and vertical polarities).

So the remaining 4 roots now relate to the diagonal polarities which we will explore in greater depth in future blog entries.

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