Center for Spiritual Inquiry and Integral Education

R. Michael Fisher
Fearlessness (R)Evolution and Fearlessness Principle
by R. Michael Fisher - Friday, October 19, 2012, 09:02 AM

I am always working on re-vising and improving my own thinking and theories, especially on integral and fear and fearlessness and what liberation as a concept and movement might look like in the 21st century.

Recently, I have been studying nonviolence movements and theory, practices, and ideologies. I went to a 2+ hr talk by Prof. Doug Allan an expert on Gandhi and nonviolence, as well as general social justice and peace activism. I watched the 2 pt. DVD documentary "A Force More Powerful" (written and directed by Steve Yorke) on six or so nonviolence movements throughout the 20th century with Gandhi's satyagraha movement being the most iconic and leader of the pack of those that followed, e.g., the Solidarity movement in Poland and the Nashville American Black civil rights struggles in Nashville, and several more. As I've reflected on these discourses by Allan and this movie, and I've read a good deal and seen other documentaries, I am not totally satisfied by the thinking and theories of nonviolence in general, albeit Gandhi's is closest to my heart and I say so in my book The World's Fearlessness Teachings. I think Gandhi really got it right about fearlessness and revolution for the 21st century. Let me explain.

First, CSIIE is in my vision, another stream or arm, with its own unique character, of the In Search of Fearlessness Movement which I co-founded in 1989. I had a vision back then that fearlessness was the core of any (r)evolution that would truly be effective in the short and long-term (probably more the latter). In many ways all my theorizing and thinking about "integral" and the Integral Movement (or Integral Studies) is really encapsulated under my premise that one cannot talk about "integral" without talking about "fearlessness" today. I'm the only person saying that in the Integral Movement I know of. And the other part of that is that one cannot (in postmodern terms) talk about nonviolence without talking about fearlessness and integral, as far as I am concerned.

Sure, they do talk about fearlessness now and then in the nonviolence movement but my research for decades shows less and less so, and in fact in the Allan talk and the movie by Yorke, "fearlessness" was not ever mentioned. I find that disturbing. I wonder why? I wrote my book on the Fearlessness Movement as I called it and wrote the first chapter of the book "Do We Really Want a Fearlessness (R)evolution?" for good reasons, as I was sensing the world but also the nonviolence movement needed to upgrade their understanding of fear and fearlessness, never mind integral theory as well. I still strongly believe this is the case. I want to share some of my latest thinking and theorizing on how to improve fearlessness notions in the nonviolence movement.

Let me first say that I am so impressed with Gandhi's revolution and use of nonviolence because as I interpret it he had a good understanding of fearlessness (even if his theory of fear and fearlessness was mostly premodern). He turned around a country from 100 years of rule by an empire (Britain), and no other nonviolence movement has done that, on that scale, with that kind of success, albeit, not perfect success by any means. I also sense that much of his gains have been lost and the country of India, is not exactly a country ruled by the fearlessness principle that Gandhi (and I) teach. Back to that problem in a moment. I like how Gandhi led his fearlessness (r)evolution, as I call it, by centralizing the education of his sacred warriors and others around fearlessness as the primary principle of ethical practice, which he also more overtly called nonviolence (harmlessness). However, he is the only revolutionary leader I know who would come out and say, as he did, "God is fearlessness." And by that you know he is convinced that the fearlessness principle is equivalent ethically to the god principle--in universal terms, not restricting a notion of god (God) to any ethnocentric understanding or to any religious tradition per se. He was, as Doug Allan argued, a very critical thinker and synthesizer who took the best from many religious and philosophical traditions and systems of thought and made it into his own version. I guess that's also what I do with fear and fearlessness.

Fearlessness Principle

If you look up "Fearlessness Revolution" on the internet, or search through all the major research database indexes at any university, you'll find that only my book and writing uses the term. If you look up "Fearlessness Principle" you'll see likewise, albeit some number of authors use "principle of fearlessness" and mostly they are referring to Gandhi's philosophy and works. I think there is something really important to put "Fearlessness" first before principle, and before revolution, and movement, etc. And that is what I have done to mark off the difference in my work from most others. But have I really got a good theory and practice that comes from it, and praxis that integrates and reflects critically upon theory and practice? Well, that's for history to decide, and you my readers. Let's say I am only "still getting it right" (and I don't even know if it is right). The work I present these days is always in progress, process, and refinement. And what I am sharing here in this piece is the latest breakthrough ideas and a foundation of theory (which I won't be able to go into any real detail here, not yet). This new theorizing of the Fearlessness Principle has led me to see that my own thinking on fear and fearlessness for 25 yrs. also needed an overhaul, and this one excites me a lot because I am really coming to better utilize evolutionary, ecological and cognitive sciences theories on development of notions of fear. I call this a theorizing on an Ecology of Fear (and Love). I'll focus only on the Ecology of Fear to start, but also I share a couple of prelimary diagrams of the "Moral-Value Hierarchy [Holarchy] of Meta-Motivations" which this Fearlessness Principle is mentioned as you'll see in the diagrams below. You'll also see that I am spinning off a re-reading and upgrade of Freud's great insights into the Reality Principle and Pleasure Principle, and I add the Transcendence Principle as keystones to understanding the largest and deepest, widest, picture of human motivation (a la think Abraham Maslow, for example).

All this work is about ethical and moral philosophy, education, and practice involving radical and revolutionary, if not liberatory change. Okay, I'll put in the diagrams for your scanning, and sorry, I am not going to write more details, yet, that will come, and with further publications down the road, but what you will get is so major of a turn in my own thinking is that I have come to see a more clear evolutionary (motivational) psychology if you will that supports, via a lot of data, that "Fear" comes before "Love" and "Freedom" comes after "Love" (i.e., evolutionarily, and developmentally)--and that is a core part (not only part) of the Fearlessness Principle that I use and the theory of nonviolence I am working on. So, just to close with text, the reality is I was a believer that "Love" came first for 25 yrs of research on this topic, and now, that needs to be revised, or so it seems as this hypothesis is taking shape. I believe that shift has major implications.

Figure 1 and 2 are the Big Picture and Figure 3 is a part of them pulling out more detail.





I LOOK forward to any comments any readers may have on these. And I would like this thinking, in part, to be part of Integral Studies overall, as well as any theories of nonviolence, liberation, you name it.