Where Do You Orient?

In my past post I introduced an interesting way to understand yourself, which may explain the particular way you are most comfortable experiencing Ultimate Reality. I thought it would be fun to talk generally about these four orienting quadrants so you can do you own anecdotal exploration of their correlation to the way you prefer connecting with the Ultimate. Knowing how you orient is useful in many other areas of life as well.

As you know from earlier posts, the four quadrants are the one of the five main aspects of Integral Theory. Originally discovered by Wilber as he sought to find coherence between lines of development, they have a variety of applications. One recent discovery is that individuals seem to be most comfortable, or orient, from a particular quadrant.

For example some of us orient from the Upper Left Quadrant, the interior of the individual. We look and make sense of the world from our own internal experience, beliefs, and values . . . those things that matter deeply.

Others of us orient from the Upper Right Quadrant, the exterior of the individual. We look and make sense of the world behaviorally . . . actions and what gets done.

Still others orient from the Lower Left Quadrant, the subjective or interior of the group. We look and make sense of the world as it relates to relationships and community . . . shared beliefs, traditions and norms.

And last are those who orient from the Lower Right Quadrant, the objective or exterior of the group. We look and make sense of the world through the environment, systems, theories and frameworks . . . the structures that underlie everything.

When I say we look and make sense from a particular quadrant I mean that orientation is the lens through which we experience those who orient from other quadrants as well. My teachers at Integral Coaching Canada, Joanne Hunt and Laura Divine, who developed this particular use of the quadrants, have a wonderful video series that show four people representing all four quadrants coming together to begin a project. The UL person’s focus is on the meaning of the project, the UR person wants to jump right in and start doing something, the LL person wants to spend some time getting to know each other and the LR person wants to begin by putting the project into the context of everything else the company has done to date.

Next we get to hear each person’s internal reaction to the others’ approach. You can imagine how the UR doer reacts to the LL person’s suggestion to spend time getting to know each other or how the LR person responds to the UL person’s comments about how meaningful the project is . . . and so it goes around the table! I imagine you’ve been in meetings like this yourself. While typologies do not describe the whole of an individual, they are powerful tools to understand oneself and of course, others.

As you ponder which quadrant seems most like you, consider the way(s) you connect with the Ultimate Reality, called by so many different names in our diverse world. Can you see how those who orient from the UL (First Face) appreciate interior practices that deepen a sense of the sacred within? Community is less important and if one participates in a spiritual community it needs to value practices that deepen one’s connection to the Divine.

The LL (Second Face) orientation longs for community so group prayer, mediation, drumming circles as well as any group where dialogue is emphasized is important. While no quadrant ignores service, the LL folks are often the leaders of service oriented projects and programs.

Those that orient from the UR (Third Face) may have much more trouble with sitting practices, rather finding their way into a deeper reality through yoga, tai chi or walking meditation that allow connection through action.

Last, those who orient from the LR (Third Face) are drawn to studies of sacred texts or systems like cosmology. They can be found gazing at the stars and being in nature. Like their fellow URs, theirs is a more objective orientation.

Each Face will ultimately lead you to the deep realization that you are part of one reality, no more separate from the whole than a wave is to the ocean. Hopefully the perspective offered by the quadrants and the Three Faces will help see how individuals and spiritual paths tend to privilege one facet, which can promote more tolerance and understanding of paths other than your own. I encourage you to experiment with facets other than your preferred one and see what emerges!



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