Poll: Are you Ascending, Descending, Agentic or Communal?

By integral,
Ascending (self-transcendence) is the upward drive towards heaven, the absolute, union, spirit, or Godhead, away from the fragmented details of the manifest world and its many forms. Einstein’s famous quote aptly describes ascending: “I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.” Ascending is also characterized as “the love that reaches up” (Eros) that brings forth new creations by arranging fragments into larger wholes, such as notes into symphonies, ingredients into meals, colors into paintings, words into sentences, knowledge into wisdom, individuals into couples, or communities into societies. Ascenders look at reality from a distance and see fractions as part of the larger whole or a greater totality. They perceive the world from an extended bird’s eye view and try to rise ever higher in consciousness to encompass everything. Ascending energy expresses itself through wisdom, creativity, novelty, visionary concepts, emptiness, and stillness. Healthy ascending is characterized by a desire to improve, to go beyond, to grow, to transcend, to create, and to think big. This is accomplished by gaining wider perspectives of the self and the nature of things. It requires a willingness to change by letting go of old paradigms and not sweating the small stuff. Unhealthy ascending ignores, represses, controls, and dominates the lower, instead of embracing and caring for it. It denies feelings, the body, sexuality, and nature. The fear of ascenders is to get dragged down, engulfed, absorbed, and lost (Phobos). Descending (self-immanence) is the downward drive towards earth, into the world of many manifestations and the body. Descenders celebrate life and its many forms, the body, and their sexuality. They go with the flow, are in touch with the richness of the manifest world, and experience things from the fullness of existence by diving in deep. Descending is also characterized as “the love that reaches down” (Agape), embracing everything—including earth and all its inhabitants—with selfless compassion and devotion. Descending energy expresses itself through feelings, empathy, emotions, warmth, movement, surrender, fullness, and flow. A descender perceives the world from the inside. Healthy descending means to be connected with and sensitive to the richness and fullness of the world, to be down-to-earth and in touch with one’s body, feelings, emotions, and sexuality. Unhealthy descending means to be overwhelmed, fused with, and run by the many details of life and its manifestations, feelings, earthly desires, and needs. The fear of descenders is to lose touch, to get lost, or to be dissociated from the fullness of life and its forces (Thanatos) Agency (self-preservation) is the drive towards wholeness, taking action through one’s own will, making independent choices, and exerting power. People with a tendency towards agency have a desire to maintain their own identity, personality, individuality, independence, and autonomy. They focus on rights, rules, laws, and justice that protect and serve the interests of the individual, and are defined by their own decisions, success, and free will, rather than their environment and the opinion of others (it is better to fail at living your own life, than to succeed at living someone else’s). Healthy agency supports the autonomous functioning of the individual. Unhealthy agency leads to alienation and dissociation from others. The fear of agentic people is to lose the freedom to make independent choices, and to become dependent on others for their well-being Communion (self-adaptation) ) is the drive to connect (commune) with others, to be part of and act in the interest of the unit or group, and to cooperate. Communion is expressed through qualities of care, responsibility, relationship, lateral bonding, connection, communication, empathy, intimacy, joining, and participation. Communal people feel that their well-being depends on their ability to contribute, trust, depend on others, fit into their environment, and maintain a mutual support system of give and take. Healthy communion is expressed through the peaceful, responsible (response-able), considerate, and caring connection between people. Unhealthy communion leads to fusion, dependency, neediness, and clinging—with the loss of one’s own will, individuality, and autonomy—which eventually leads to resentment. The fear of communion-oriented (communal) people is to be abandoned, unsupported, and alone Interior Your interior is ascending if it is directed towards creative thinking/mindfulness, seeing the bigger picture, experiencing God above, stillness, emptiness, and presence. Your interior is descending if it is directed towards feelings, wandering thoughts, sensing, self-love, embracing the lower, compassion, fullness, and surrender. Your interior is agentic if it is directed towards keeping your thoughts and feelings to yourself, and to deal with problems alone (introverted). As many relationship books indicate, most men prefer to go into their cave when they experience stress (watching TV, working alone on a project, meditating, going on a solo hike, etc.). Your interior is communal if it is directed towards sharing your thoughts and feelings with others (extroverted) and showing empathy. As we know from experience, most women prefer to deal with their problems by sharing them with others, without expecting any constructive feedback or needing to be fixed. Exterior Exterior Your exterior is ascending when it is directed away from the body with its lower impulses, fears, needs, and desires through repression/dissociation or self-discipline and control. Your exterior is descending if it is directed towards embracing your body, to surrender to its impulses (indulge/allow), to have compassion (suffer with), to be passive and to adapt. Your exterior is agentic if it is directed towards being alone, physically distancing yourself from others, not touching or wanting to be touched. Your exterior is communal if it is directed towards being in the company of others, physical closeness, touching others, and being touched. --- Examples We need to take care of our cells and organs to maintain our body (descending), otherwise we will get ill and may even die/decompose into molecules, atoms, quarks, strings...all the way down. We also need the emotional and material support of others (communion) to survive, while maintaining our autonomy as individual beings (agency), and creating partnerships and communities (ascending) to sustain the human race. An extreme example of unhealthy development of the four drives is Hitler’s Nazi Germany which initially succeeded at ascending (creating a large, unified “us”) and agency (isolating itself and fighting the rest of the world), but failed miserably at descending (caring for its individual members – including six million German Jews and other fringe groups who were brutally murdered in concentration camps), and communion(cooperating with its neighbors). This endeavor, as history has shown, not only caused unimaginable harm to millions, but collapsed as a whole within a short period of time. You may, for example, want to have sex with your partner (exterior-communion), do her (exterior-ascending), or be done by her (exterior descending), feel an inner space and emptiness (interior-ascending), or emotional charge (interior-descending), and want to be silent/have no eye contact (interior-agency) while fucking her from behind (exterior-agency), or want to talk/make eye contact while facing her during your lovemaking(interior-communion). Alternatively, you may want to be alone (exterior-agency), fast (exterior-ascending), or eat a delicious five-course meal (exterior-descending), daydream about a lost love (interior-descending), or think about a creative dating profile (interior-ascending), write your thoughts into a personal journal (interior-agency), or post them on a public Internet blog (interior-communion). Sometimes, conflicts between the four drives in our interior and exterior world arise. For example, you may be physically attracted to a woman and would like to have sex with her (exterior communion), but you sense an inner fear of rejection or are afraid to lose your autonomy and instead withdraw into your shell and meditate (interior agency). Integrity is when you align your intentions (values/beliefs) with your behavior in the face of opposition. Dance partners may share (interior) thoughts and feelings in a conversation (communion) with one of them speaking (ascending) and the other listening (descending), or remain both silent (agency). You may—for example—want to experience Godhead (ascend) and go off alone into the desert (agency) to meditate, empty your mind, and chastise your body, or chant mantras in a group with others (communal). Or you may want to comfort and nurture your body (descend), either by taking a hot herbal bath and eating chocolate-covered strawberries in solitude (agency), or by joining a group of friends for a healthy meal and intimate sharing of feelings, followed by ecstatic group dancing (communal). Tantra which means “to weave and expand continuously,” or the union of wisdom (ascending) and compassion (descending), is an accumulation of Eastern spiritual practices that attempts to harmonize the four polarities, especially ascending and descending, heaven and earth, or Shiva and Shakti—expressing the assumption that God manifests through both. --- Advice  An integrally informed man will work towards harmonizing his interior and exterior vision (ascending) for his partnership/marriage by considering his own needs and the needs of his spouse (descending). He will also balance his interior and exterior needs for autonomy (agency) with his and her desire for deep harmonious intimacy, closeness, and connection (communion). Without this balance, two extremely agentic people will have a hard time coming together; extremely communal partners will become fused and codependent; two ascenders will rarely connect on a deeper emotional/sexual level and their separate visions may constantly collide (unless they have a shared vision, which is desirable); and two descenders may get lost in the morass of their emotions and details of their life. Source: Book Integral Relationships