Question: Social psychology speaks of the role of “small talk” and states that to have a good relationship with your neighbors, it is sufficient to simply say “hello” during each encounter. If I don’t do this systematically, then in the overall system I become indebted to my neighbors. When this “debt” reaches its maximum, neighbors can simply get rid of me. Can this kind of information help a person build an integral society?
Answer: Of course it can. This information speaks to the fact that we are all integrally connected and therefore need to receive certain signals from each other, at the very least to interact on the level of “hello.” This is a good example.
Question: I can give another example. We spoke about a rather peculiar interaction between relatives. For some reason, a majority of people attempt to build a friendly relationship with, say, their mother-in-law. Obviously, they don’t succeed in that; they are burdened by these ties, which then turn into resentments. In the integral upbringing courses, can we tell people that they shouldn’t try to be friends with their mother-in-law, that this is a different form of interaction?
Answer: People need to be taught a lot in this respect, in particular about what levels of connection one should have. However, I don’t think that we need to operate the way that psychologists do today. If we enter the level of mutual integration, the well-intentioned, simple attitude of people towards each other will involuntarily build the correct connections, where we don’t shun or show off to each other.
It is precisely these sincere mutual interactions that will place us in our corresponding positions relative to each other, akin to connected cogwheels. There are people with whom my connection is tighter, as well as those who are further away from me. I shouldn’t pretend otherwise and insinuate myself into a tight grip with everyone.
Therefore, if I am bound to my spouse through family ties, it doesn’t mean that I have to be similarly connected with her mother and other relatives since all of this is carried out only through him or her and in no other way. If it wasn’t for my spouse, I would possibly have never even known them. It is necessary for us to show these connections directly, to clarify them.
When we draw people towards mutual integrality, they understand that mutual separation or mutual closeness should originate precisely from our state in the overall system. And that is why there shouldn’t be any offense or resentment here.
I greet my neighbors because the fact that living in the same wing of an apartment building or on the same floor obliges me to do so, while I have no obligation to greet the people who live in a neighboring house or even a neighboring wing.
In other words, it is precisely our compatibility with each other and our closeness that determine to what extent I need to expose this mutual connection, this cohesion with others. Thus, if this is recognized by people, they are not obliged to anything. On the contrary, they will naturally, from within, enter any given contact in accordance with the general system, the overall interconnection between everyone.
I do not see a problem in this and I think that all of this will spring from within a person.
From a “Talk on Integral Education” #6, 12/14/11