The “Centaur / Centauric” Level (Six) and its Relevance to Health

Despite it’s rather fantastic and mythological sounding name, the “Centauric” Level of development has a key relevance to health and wellbeing, and I’ll tell you why.

We need to understand something about stages of psychological development in order to understand this, so let’s start with a basic example of how our psychologies develop through greater levels of complexity, as we go through our human journey throughout life, since birth.

Let’s say you have a tennis ball that’s red on one side, and blue on the other.

If you hand it to a three year old child (for example), with the blue side facing them, and ask them what colour they are looking at, they will say “Blue”.

But if you ask them what colour YOU are looking at, they will ALSO say “Blue”.

Conduct that same experiment with a five year old (again, say, as an example), and whilst they will tell you they see blue, they will be able to appreciate that you will be seeing the red side.

This indicates a development in psychological complexity, because the second child is able to take your perspective; they can take the perspective of another person.

Further along the developmental chain, then, and into adulthood, we have some individuals who can make a deeper distinction that there is a difference between themselves, and their own mind.  They can see the mind as an object that they are aware of – and this has a very beneficial effect when it comes to health.  Let’s see…

Integrating Mind and Body

Imagine you are doing a jigsaw puzzle with only two pieces.  Pretty easy huh?

Each of the two pieces are in front of you, and you have only to put them together.  A piece of cake!

But this is only simple because you can take a perspective of both pieces as objects.

Consider these two jigsaw pieces as ‘the mind’, and ‘the body’, and you can see that integrating mind and body is possible – both are ‘in front of you’ – but what if you think you ARE your mind? …and the body is there to serve that, mostly for pleasure (through eating rich foods and drinking alcohol, say)?

Here, one cannot take an objective perspective of the mind.  Mind is perceived as being subjective – the observer, rather than being one of the two things you want to integrate and make work together as a whole.

So in this instance, of a person identifying directly with the mind, an individual is unable to integrate mind and body because the individual is unable to hold both as objects in their awareness.

It’s like trying to put the two jigsaw pieces together when one is behind your back – or rather inside your head!

When the mind and body cannot be integrated as a single, functioning, overall whole, we are only able to make less integrated decisions about how to use our body – it might, for example, be used for entertainment, or we might put upon it to occupy our mind’s needs at its expense, or even exercise for unbalanced reasons, to meet an intellectualised goal or self-image, say, resulting in health that is less optimum than is possible with an integrated perspective.

You can still have health at the previous levels without this, but it’s not informed and run by this higher capacity.  It’s not mind-body integrated.


Incidentally, this level of perspective, the sixth, also begins the stages of ‘transpersonal’ or what might be called genuine ‘spiritual’ stages of development, the same transcended perspective that is aimed for by meditation, the classical purpose and goal of which is to dis-identify with the Finite Self.

Integral philosopher, Ken Wilber, who coined the phrase ‘the Centaur’ for this stage, explains it thusly;

“Yes, fulcrum-6. The basic structure at this stage is vision-logic…

“But vision-logic adds up the parts and sees networks of interactions…  When the self’s center of gravity identifies with vision-logic, when the person lives from that level, then we tend to get a very highly integrated personality, a self that can actually inhabit a global perspective, and not merely talk about it.

“So the highly integrative capacity of vision-logic supports an equally integrated self.  Which is why I call the self of this stage the centaur, representing an integration of the mind and the body…

“…I have always liked the summary of Broughton’s research: at this stage, “mind and body are both experiences of an integrated self.”

“…precisely because the observing self is beginning to transcend the mind and the body, it can for just that reason begin to integrate the mind and body.  Thus, centaur.

“The observing self then begins to differentiate from the mind and to see it as an object.  Since it is no longer exclusively identified with the mind, it can integrate the mind with the other components in awareness, with the body and its impulses.  Hence, centaur – mind and body are both experiences of an integrated self.” – Ken Wilber

– Taken from A Brief History of Everything.

This is why, in my article on social and global development for Integral Leadership Review, I say;

“Has the importance and practice of listening to the body been informed and taught, and then followed up with the suggestion to integrate the mind with the body, which is something that is not—yet—focused on culturally, and so is a very natural capacity of beautifully flowing with the luminous health of one’s body that only a few people have as yet achieved, but which makes achieving lifelong health so much easier? If you can see your own mind and its wondrous intricacies as an object and a tool that is yours to shape and nurture and define, then you can manage it in order to integrate it with the body! This conclusion has led me to define ‘The 1-2-3 of Health’, whereby step one is listening to the body, step two is distinguishing the difference between the needs of the mind and the needs of the body, and step three is actually having—or developing—the capacity of self-mastery to actually make that awareness count, and take the right action. Outside the much smaller percentage of unavoidable ill health causes, that is where the solution to Western health lies in the Degenerative Disease age.”

You can also see my video explanation of The 1-2-3 of Health…

“The needs of the mind are not the needs of the body. If the need for food is in the mind, if the need for sex is in the mind, you cannot satisfy the need.”—Don Miguel Ruiz

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The “Centaur / Centauric” Level (Six) and its Relevance to HealthThis has been quite a complex article, so I recommend you to come back to it from time to time if you need to.  Or even get in touch with me if you’d like help fully understanding it and ‘integrating’ it.

Best wishes ’til the next time.

James Blacker

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Added: Wednesday, March 5th, 2014