An Excerpt from A Theory of Everything – An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality by Ken Wilber

The approach to ecology set forth in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality is, critics agreed, a unique approach. Whether the critics liked the book or not, they agreed it was unique because it managed to combine ecological unity, systems theory, and nondual spirituality, but without privileging the biosphere and without using the Web-of-Life notion,which I maintain is a reductionistic, flatland conception. Rather, an all-quadrant, all-level approach to ecology allows us to situate the physiosphere, the biosphere, the noosphere, and the theosphere in their appropriate relationships in the Kosmos at large, and thus we can emphasize the crucial importance of the biosphere without having toreduceeverything to the biosphere.

The key to these relationships—and the reason why they have so often been confused—can be seen in figure 4-6. Notice that the body (biosphere), mind (noosphere), and soul/spirit (theosphere) are all indicated on the figure. Each senior wave transcends and includes its junior, as shown by the enveloping nests. In that sense, it is quite correct to say that the mind transcends and includes the body, or that the noosphere transcends and includes the biosphere. The biosphere is a crucial component of the noosphere, but not vice versa (as most ecologists incorrectly suppose). That is, you can destroy the noosphere—or human minds—and the biosphere will still survive quite handsomely; but if you destroy the biosphere, all human minds are also destroyed. The reason is that the biosphere is a part of the noosphere, and not vice versa. By analogy, an atom is part of a molecule; if you destroy the molecule, the atom can still exist, but if you destroy the atom, the molecule is also destroyed. Same for biosphere and noosphere: destroy the latter, and the former can still exist,but not vice versa, showing that on the interior realms, the biosphere is a part of the noosphere, and not the other way around (as can be clearly seen in figs. 4-3 and 4-6).

So it is not true that human minds (the noosphere) are part of nature (or the biosphere), but rather the reverse. But notice, every interior event has a correlate in the exterior sensory world—the world we often call “nature.” Thus, most ecotheorists look at the external, empirical, sensory world, and they conclude that “Everything is a part of nature,” because everything does indeed have a correlate in the Right-Hand world (as can be seen in figs. 4-4 and 4-6). So they conclude that “nature” (or the “biosphere”) is the ultimate reality, and they ask that we act in accord with “nature,” and thus they reduce everything to some version of ecology or the biosphere or the great Web of Life. But that is only half the story, the Right-Hand half. On the interioror Left-Hand dimensions, we see that nature—or the sensory, felt, empirical dimensions—are only a small part of the bigger story, a small slice of the Bigger Pie, a Pie that includes biosphere, noosphere, and theosphere.

And although all of those interior waves have exterior correlates in the world of nature, they cannot be reduced to those exteriors; they cannot be reduced to nature.To do so is simply to embrace yet another version of flatland: the monochrome world of Right-Hand reality, the empirical-sensory Web of Life. That is ecological reductionism at its worst—reducing the entire Kosmos to the Lower-Right quadrant—a reductionism at the heart of many eco- philosophies. On the other hand, an all-quadrant, all-level approach to ecology—as summarized in figure 4-6—allows us to honor the physiosphere, the biosphere, the noosphere and theosphere, not by trying to reduce one to the others, but by acknowledging and respecting the vitally crucial role they all play in this extraordinary Kosmos.