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The Big Three – The Good, The True, and The Beautiful

Integral Studies – Lesson 2

One key aspect of Integral Theory is the 4 quadrants (shown below), often referred to as I, We, It and It’s. These are four perspectives through which we can view the world. The idea is that all things arise in all 4 quadrants. The Upper Left (UL) quadrant is the interior of the individual the Lower Right is the exterior of the collective etc.

These 4 quadrants are often simplified into the Big 3 and correlate rather nicely with the tried and true philosophical ideas of the Good (we), the True (it), and the Beautiful (I). As it is only through each of these perspectives that we can know what is good (ethics, intersubjective), true (science, objective), and beautiful (art, subjective), it is important to remember that far too often we each tend to favor one perspective over the others and much suffering ensues.

Our assignment was to describe a memorable event in our lives using the language of each of these three major perspectives. Someone wrote about the birth of their child, and someone else lamented that they could not write about their own birth….so:

I opened my eyes and there they were, presumably the people who had been poking me and playing that awful music right in my ear every night. I know who she his, she feels like me. I think that we are the same. But these other men I’m not so sure about. One of them seems almost familiar, and now he his looking at me. He loves me. He is crying. Where the hell am I? It’s cold, I think someone just smacked my bottom, and suddenly the liquid that I’m breathing feels very thin and harsh. I’ve been screaming to go back, but no one seems to understand. They are passing me to her, laying me upon her chest. Here I feel at home again.

We knew that this was the most important day that we had experienced together as soon as the first contraction happened. There was a moan, the walls drew in, and suddenly we felt a rush of energy and anxiety course through our veins. Someone grabbed one of our hands and said that we needed to head to the hospital right away. We didn’t think that there was much too worry about, but we didn’t really have the energy to argue with him either. He is a sincere and caring man, and though he was not experiencing things quite as viscerally as we were, we knew that he shared our joy and concern for the import of this moment, and so we allowed him to lead us all to the car and drive straight away to the hospital.

It came out with a slurping sound and started wailing right away. It seems to have become proficient in the use of its levator palpebrae superioris muscles prior to seeing the light because it is blinking quite profusely. There seems to be blood and a number of other fluids coating the skin and what little hair covers its head as if the creature had just immerged victorious from battle or some other violent encounter. The umbilical chord was snipped like a piece of sausage and the placenta was bagged and rushed off to storage. The babies toes were counted, it’s face wiped off and it was placed gently on its mothers chest where the screams finally stopped and its heart rate slowed to a more restful pace.

It was interesting to talk from the we space of the mother-child union that is really a blurred line between self and other to begin with. Presumably the moments surrounding birth are when such a line is being drawn the most and yet also the most difficult to distinguish. The IT language felt cold and inappropriate for such an event, but no doubt was the most important for the overall health and well being of all involved. I don’t actually remember being born, so you’ll have to forgive my imagination creeping into the assignment, but from a completely subjective point of view who is to say that what I have described here is not a direct result of some sort of memory, or physical imprint from the actual birthing experience? Certainly not me.