What would a new feminism created through the lens of integral theory look like, feel like, and be like, embodied by women? This is the question we posed to Willow Pearson, Diane Musho Hamilton, and Sofia Diaz, the leading women at Integral Institute, the research and educational organization founded by integral philosopher Ken Wilber. These three women have been working together to create seminars that teach Women’s Integral Life Practice, a holistic approach to women’s development. The first seminar debuted in fall 2005 on the heels of the Omega Institute’s Women & Power weekend conference. Since then, these three integral leaders have offered the seminar each fall.
Integral feminism is a work in progress, and these seminars are the first attempts to present what it might mean. Dubbed “the ultimate cross-training for women,” the seminars are designed to “engage you intellectually, physically, emotionally, interpersonally, and spiritually,” as the Integral Institute website explains. Through this integrated engagement with all dimensions of a woman’s life, their goal is to develop a new integral expression of the feminine that will balance the masculine tilt to our culture. An essential part of creating this balance is bringing forward the “feminine face of the Divine,” a spiritual grounding that they say will enable women to find their place within and beyond the religious traditions. As Pearson explains, “The Feminine is—She can’t be created; She can’t be destroyed. Women can be marginalized, women can be oppressed, women can be put down, but the Feminine herself is present in every situation. There would be no phenomena without Her.” Through providing women with an understanding of the Feminine Divine as essential to life itself, they hope to give women a deep sense of being at home in the Kosmos.
The seminars are the result of another integration: the coming together of the diverse talents and experiences of these three women. Willow Pearson is a practicing psychotherapist in Boulder, Colorado, a founding member of Integral Institute, and a faculty member at Naropa University. She is also a musician, composer, and performing artist. Diane Musho Hamilton Sensei has been a practitioner of Buddha-dharma for more than twenty years and holds a master’s degree in contemplative psychology from Naropa University. As a senior Zen student of Genpo Merzel Roshi, she serves as a facilitator of Big Mind, a process designed by Genpo Roshi to bring the insights of Zen meditation to Western audiences. Trained as a lawyer, she is also a mediator, group facilitator, and trainer in conflict resolution. Sofia Diaz has studied yoga intensively for more than twenty-three years and has apprenticed since 1982 with dance and music masters of the Balasaraswati lineage of Bharata Natyam. She teaches hatha yoga, sacred movement, and feminine spiritual practice, deriving her style of teaching and body philosophy from the South Indian temple arts and their accompanying scriptures.
WIE spoke with Pearson, Hamilton, and Diaz about their vision of integral feminism and how they are working with women in their seminars. After this initial conversation, we asked them: What is integral feminism, and why do you feel it is the next step for women on the leading edge? What follows are an excerpt from the interview, where Diaz discusses what the Feminine Principle is and the difficulty of capturing it in language, and written responses from Hamilton and Pearson to the questions we posed.