Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lexi Neale - The AQAL Cube for Dummies

In the current Integral Leadership Review, Lexi Neale was finally persuaded by Russ (Volckmann, owner and founder of the Review) to write a dumbed-down version of his AQAL Cube theory for the ILR.

It's a long article and very much worth your time to read. For the purposes of this post, I am only including the author's note at the beginning and the 2nd major section of the paper, on how the cube relates to individual human beings. I can see a potential use for this in Integral Psychotherapy.

I'm not a huge fan of the "quantum consciousness" piece (locality and nonlocality) he adds to the model, especially in light of using the Hameroff/Penrose model. Their theory is speculative at best, and simply wrong in the minds of many cognitive neuroscientists and quantum physicists.

About the Author

Lexi Neale has a varied background. He studied Zoology and Psychology in 1966-1969, B.Sc. , London University. In 1971 in Glastonbury he met his thirteen-year-old Master, Prem Rawat, just arrived from India. Prem Rawat teaches a time-honored integral practice that he calls Knowledge of the Self – as in Know the Knower. Lexi Neale is affiliated with The Prem Rawat Foundation, an award-winning charity providing aid for the relief of human suffering. Contact and ( He is also a member of the Integral Research Center as an Integral Theorist. Contact Lexi Neale personally at

The AQAL Cube for Dummies

Lexi Neale

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Lexi Neale

Author’s Note: The above title is not intended to be demeaning, dear Reader, but more of an inside joke between Russ and I. Russ has twice approached me about an AQAL Cube article, and has twice shied away from what I sent him. His complaint? Too complex! So I have finally relented and taken his observation to heart. I sincerely hope that the following extension of Ken Wilber’s AQAL Square model is at least comprehensible, if not acceptable!

Since Ken introduced my AQAL Cube extension of his Integral model, the AQAL Square, on, archived June 12th 2009, it has been “the best of times, and the worst of times” (A Tale of Two Cities) as in a tale of two models. In an introduction he wrote for Part 2, archived November 4th 2009, where I pitched the AQAL Cube as Wilber-6, he said “In my mind, of course, it is definitely not Wilber-6, just a thoughtful extension of Wilber-5.” And in my mind, of course, I am still challenging that!

It is true that the AQAL Cube vastly complicates the Integral model by introducing AQAL Non-locality into the mix, and also the liberal notion of Eight Fundamental Perspectives PER PERSON, but the complication has more to do with the effort of having to transcend/include establishment Integral concepts rather than complexity per se. I let you be the judge of that. Going back to Ken’s comment “a thoughtful extension of Wilber-5”, I decided that should be my guide in writing this article, by keeping to the aspects of the AQAL Cube that truly are extensions of the AQAL Square.

* * * * *

The AQAL Cube per Person

Now we go deeper into our Self-system. Ken’s AQAL Square affords the Self-system two First Person Quadrants (Upper and Lower Left). Ken himself has said that the AQAL Square is really a Third Person model describing First, Second and Third Person phenomena. We now reconsider that blatant admission of flat-land. This is where established Integral Theory gets taken for a really wild ride in a very powerful car!

Remembering how Ken’s Third Person “Inside”’, “Outside”, “Individual”, “Collective”, “Interior” and “Exterior” perspectives recombine to produce the Eight Fundamental Perspectives (Fig. 1), the same logic can be applied to our First Person: As well as our Consciousness Self and our Cognitive Self we also have a Singular Self, a Plural Self, a Subjective Self, and an Objective Self, which recombine in the same way to produce the Eight Fundamental First Person Perspectives. Suddenly our two-cylinder car becomes a V-8!

Since the beginning of language the First, Second and Third Person pronouns have defined our self and each other: Me Tarzan, You Jane. And it is in language that we express our intuitive knowledge of our own Self complexity. Fig.2. shows the First Person Cube and its eight First Person pronouns expanding through the Levels.

Figure 2. The First Person Cube

The Quadrants above, 1,3,5,7 are the Non-Possessive Personal Pronouns, and the Quadrants below, 2,4,6,8 are the Possessive Personal Pronouns. The first thing that is apparent is how the Non-Possessive Quadrants 1,3,5 and 7 are intangible First Person identities, and how the Possessive Quadrants 2,4,6 and 8 are tangible First Person experiential attributes of those identities. The differentiation is exactly the same as between Non-Local Consciousness and Local Body-Mind. In other words, our entire cultural history has endorsed the notion of a Four Quadrant “Experiencer-as-Consciousness”, and a correlated Four Quadrant “Experience-as-Mind”.

The second thing we notice about the First Person Cube is that there is no differentiation in English between the two “I’s” and ”We’s” as First Person pronouns in the Subjective Octants 1,2,3 and 4. Language is a two-way street: One the one hand it identifies pre-existing perspectives as a common experience, which then become cultural givens; but on the other hand, in naming them, it can culturally bias some perspectives at the expense of others. Cultures that are objective diminish the subjective; cultures that are collective diminish the individual; cultures that are materialistic diminish the non-material – by not differentiating them. In Russian there is a differentiation between an “inner We” and an “outer collective We” as in “We the people”. In Yiddish there is a differentiation between “I” as a spiritual identity and the “I” of everyday life.

In evaluating his “8 Zones”, Wilber encountered this anomaly himself in differentiating an Inside “I” from an Outside “I”; and an Inside “We” from an Outside “We”. I quote[7]:
‘ – for example, the experience of an “I” in the UL Quadrant. That “I” can be looked at from the inside or the outside. I can experience my own “I” from the inside [Octant 1], in this moment, as the felt experience of being a subject of my present experience, a 1st person having a 1st person experience. If I do so, the results include such things as introspection, meditation, phenomenology, contemplation, and so on (all simply summarized as phenomenology… But I can also approach this “I” from the outside [Octant 2], in the stance of an objective or “scientific” observer. I can so in my own awareness (when I try to be “objective” about myself, or try to “see myself as others see me”) …Likewise, I can approach the study of a “we” from its inside or its outside. From the inside [Octant 3], this includes the attempts that you and I make to understand each other right now. How is it that you and I can reach a mutual understanding about anything, including when we simply talk to each other? How do your “I” and my “I” come together in something you and I both call “we” (as in, “Do you and I – do we – understand each other?”). The art and science of we-interpretation is typically called hermeneutics. 
‘But I can also attempt to study this “we” from the outside [Octant 4], perhaps as a cultural anthropologist, or an ethnomethodologist, or a Foucauldian archaeologist…And so on around the quadrants. Thus, 8 basic perspectives and 8 basic methodologies.’ (The Octant designations in brackets are mine.)
In other words, Wilber completely endorses the Left Octants (1,2,3 and 4) of the First Person AQAL Cube, but he does not extend this argument to the First Person Right Hand Quadrants (5, 6, 7 and 8). He does, however, mention the objective-self issue:
‘If you get a sense of yourself right now – simply notice what it is that you call “you” – you might notice at least two parts to this self: one, there is some sort of observing self (an inner subject or watcher); and two, there is some sort of observed self (some objective things that you can see or know about yourself… The first is experienced as an “I”, the second as a “me”… I call the first the proximate self (since it is closer to “you”), and the second the distal self (since it is objective and “farther away”).’
The Proximate and Distal Selves are an Octant 1 and Octant 5 differentiation on the First Person AQAL Cube. Octant 5 is the Distal Self, or the way I formulate my Proximate Self as a Persona in its true etymological sense, as my mask, as how “I” want others to identify with “Me”. This is the All Level “Me” Inside. (Note: This differentiation of the Distal Self or Persona is not the persona of fulcrum 4.) And the correlated behavior of this Persona is “My” personality Outside, where Octant 6 pertains to “My” personality through “My” behavior. The Enneagram as elucidated by Riso[7] makes this differentiation very clearly.

Equally, the Social Persona or our identification with “Us” Inside, and the Social Personality-behavior in “Our” tribe Outside, follow the same First Person differentiations. These eight important First Person Self-differentiations have not yet been made in Integral Psychology, even though they are experientially self-evident to the point where Wilber himself identified six of them, with “Us”.

Integral Theory does in fact obliquely identify the Self-system as a First Person Octo-Dynamic. I noticed how the various Lines of the Self System in the AQAL Square Upper Left have an eerie correspondence with the First Person Eight Fundamental Perspectives. Naturally, this needs to be played out in Integral Research, but I propose that the correspondence self-evidently corroborates the First Person AQAL Cube:
Octant 1: Proximate Self as the Consciousness-as-experiencer “I”. Core self-identity witnessing through Levels of assumed identity states. Lines: Proximate Self-identity, spiritual identity. Representative Levels of Self-identity-as-witness are: Red – Id identity fused with the Lower Mind; Orange – Ego identity fused with the Lower Mind; Blue – Soul Consciousness differentiated from Mind. Violet – Non-Dual Supreme Witness.

Octant 2: Cognitive Self as the “I” Mind. Experiential identity through Fulcrum Levels of intelligence structures. Lines: All Intelligences, such as cognitive, affective, psychosexual, aesthetic, spiritual. Representative Levels of experiential intelligence are: Red – sensing, feeling, emoting; Orange – thinking; Blue – visioning; Violet – wisdom/Akashic experience.

Octant 3: Inter-Proximate Self as “We” Consciousness. Shared self through Levels of assumed identity states. Line: inter-proximate self. Representative Levels are: Red – Inter-Id as fused “I-We”; Orange – Inter-Ego “We”; Blue – Inter-Soul “We”; Violet – Non-Dual “We”.

Octant 4: Cultural Self as the “We” Mind. Interpretive shared or common experience as cultural intelligence. Lines: moral self, worldview self. Representative Levels are: Red – Tribal member (fused “I-We”); Orange – cultural independent; Blue – cultural visionary; Violet – spiritual iconoclast.

Octant 5: Distal Self (Persona) as “Me” Consciousness. Objectively differentiated from the Proximate Self of Octant 1, the Persona is self-referential as a Self-image. This is the intentional persona of the Enneagram, the objective evaluator of the Self-system and home of the Self-judging Super-Ego. After death existence or Bardo is a projection of this self-evaluation as our Non-Local All-Level Persona. Line: intentional persona. Representative Levels as State-stages are: Red – Id-centered, 4th Bardo; Orange – Ego-centered, 3rd Bardo; Blue – Soul-centered, 2nd Bardo; Violet – Pneumo-centered, 1st Bardo.

Octant 6: Behavioral Persona as “My” Mind. Objectively differentiated from the Cognitive Self of Octant 2, the Behavioral Persona is the objective expression of Mind as our Personality and its Enneatypes. Lines: behavioral personalities as applied to cognitive, affective, psychosexual, aesthetic, spiritual. Representative Levels as Structure-stages are: Red – magic; Orange – rational; Blue – integral; Violet – spiritually wise.

Octant 7: Inter-Distal Persona as “Us” Consciousness. The Social Self-image is a fused “Me-Us” until socio-centric, after which the Social Identity differentiates. Identification with family, organizations and affiliations. After-death identification with others is through the correlated Non-Local All-Level Social Persona. Line: interpersonal. Representative Levels as State-stages are: Red – symbiont; Orange – server-dominator; Blue – integrator; Violet – compassionate.

Octant 8: Social Persona as “Our” Mind. The Social Persona evolving as organized and cooperative behavior and experience of social situations. Lines: sociocultural, relational, ethical. Representative Levels as Structure-stages: Red – tribal member; Orange – nationalist; Blue – globalist; Violet – utopian.
In the interests of developing a fully Integral model, I suggest that Integral researchers of the Self-system identify their field of research as an Octant in each Person.
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