This is a “mammoth” book read probably by very few, but it does a wonderful job of mapping out the integral growth path in comprehensive detail and summarizes the lifework of Ken Wilber. The biggest contribution to the development of humanity from Wilber, in my opinion, is his recognition of the state (how we are) and structure (how we think), accompanied by comprehensive unique insights into the characteristics and blindspots of both crucial domains and their respective levels on the evolutionary process. The following is my own short and simplified synthesis of this inspiring unification of the two.

In simple terms, the self-structure references our ability to do unification on the mental plain of consciousness, whereas the self-state references our ability to be unified with our perceived reality. One is our capacity to understand/ explain/ include, and the other is our capacity to be, both important on our personal cosmic path. 

You can feel totally One/ “fully awakened” (and there are layers to this) but are also limited by your conceptual capacity (possibly not even aware that structure creates your perceived reality). Or you could be rather sophisticated in your thinking but without the experience of the higher frequencies of existence. 

Most importantly, states of being are interpreted by the structure. Whatever your center of gravity is in terms of structural understanding is the ceiling of the information you “notice” – everything else goes over your head. That’s quite a unifying insight to be mindful of, in many ways. The fact is, a lot of potential is hidden unless we unlock our minds to see them. This is regardless of the state of our being. This provides a context for today’s people to achieve historically high levels of conceptual understanding while tasting the same oneness ancient sages spoke about. 


To get a general idea going, imagine a circle around you that represents your understanding of reality. Everything you experience is enabled/ influenced/ formed/ “colored” by that circle, and within that circle, you can be in all possible states (depressed, sad, happy, content, etc…). The highest end state is of total oneness with everything. That feeling is true, complete, absolute, Godly loving, irrespective of the circle around you. But now compare that to someone having another circle (enriched by another dimension) around the first circle. This person notices another layer of reality that goes “over the head” of the first one. This could be said to be more sophisticated, with an expanded/ augmented structure, but not necessarily with a higher state of being. Only when the other person also achieves a total unity within their circles could it be said that both have achieved the SAME total oneness, while the second person has a higher understanding to interpret this total state. Of course, we could add many increasingly subtler layers on top and experience a further enriched oneness. In Ken Wilbers’s terms, the Emptiness (oneness) is, was, and forever will be the same, but the Form (structure) gets fuller. The degree of total harmony depends on the structure. Enlightenment is a combination/ union of *any* structure with the highest state possible and thus, as it turns out, evolves over time.

Let’s observe the Self-Structure more closely.

In its totality, you can consider it as a lens through which we see, but of course, it is not just our sight but many different aspects that make up our experience. The self-structure contains (five) physical senses, emotional tendencies (somewhere between physical and mental), and increasingly subtler, non-physical dimensions. It is a complex filter through which we experience the infinite Reality in our own unique personal way. 

We are focusing particularly on the mental side of things, because it is our mind that is the most important, and most ignorant aspect of the self, and because it influences all other aspects of our filter. The Great traditions sometimes see the mind as the 6th sense, which I agree but also disagree. That is, it is a sense but also different, and beneath everything else. The mind is an interconnected web of beliefs, mostly hidden from plain sight (outside of immediate awareness). It is layered and not fixed (meaning, our persona, worldview, and everything we think we are is not fixed in stone), that is to say, our mind is evolving and adding dimensions. Growth/ evolution is a natural automatic process. The only thing stopping this, or slowing it down, is the ego’s desire to stay as is.

On closer look, our self-structuring mind is a multi-dimensional lens. And while we can describe the dimensions differently depending on our preferences (there are many models that describe evolutionary levels in different domains – one of them, of course, is the 8D Food Approach), the fact is, we can recognize a trend of evolving layers of structural complexity, each enhancing our experience, increasing our ability to notice and unify, but also bringing their respective challenges, blindspots, dangers. Growth has a price to be paid but is expansively rewarding nevertheless. 

The final remark I would like to emphasize here, on the importance of recognizing structure, is the illusory nature of our perceived reality. Our assumptions of life have a self-fulfilling/ validating property. What we believe (have learned) tends to happen (after all, we create our reality). Our self-structure reveals a unique reality to us (influenced by our beliefs) and it is natural to think that what we experience is some absolute reality/ Truth, even though it is actually what came through the filter. The “produce” of the filter is an illusion (not false, but in the sense that it is relative) and gets increasingly illusive as we experience subtler states, and grasp finer structures. The filter thus enforces itself. And the ego tends to always protect the current structure which creates tension within the self and between others (even if you don’t feel this happening) unless we open ourselves completely for growth. 

Being radically open and grounded is the essence of the integral approach in my view, and the foundation of Art of Food Academy.

The States of Being.

We start again by acknowledging that any layer, or any definition for that matter, is somewhat arbitrary. We define structures in order to make useful maps that can be used to notice the intricacies of Reality. “The map is not the territory”, but can be useful nevertheless to learn what others have discovered through intense personal investigations, to then go out, test, and modify the map for yourself. This acknowledgment is important to protect ourselves from being lured into theories, which are at best good maps, but not the territory. Any theory, and I mean ANY theory, including this statement, is only partially true.

A state is a frequency, a vibration, a point of being (compared to a structure which is a point of view). Reality has a wide range of different densities of energy, but interestingly, they can all be recognized in the self. Humans, through meditation, are capable of being in all states, regardless of the developmental structure of the self. 

There are two main things I like to bring out in this article about the states. First, I’ll broadly define a range of all states that resonates with me personally, and hopefully, you will find logic there for yourself. Second, I’ll again connect this to the structure to understand how the two can be used for optimal growth. As a bonus, I’ll show how food is present throughout a wide range of states.

A rock or a molecule is an example of a gross (physical) state; an angry or happy emotion, or a thought, or a narrative is a subtle state, an archetype (Universal principle) is a causal state, a formless observer is an Empty Witnessing state (your True Self), and then there is the nondual state, which is a total union of Emptiness and Form (Enlightment, as it is called). 

Each state is a range in itself, for example, a subtle state supports a wide range of emotions, from the densest suicidal despair (which is totally fixated on a gross state) to ecstasy. Likewise for gross (from the atoms to more complex molecules to the earliest most simplest lifeforms) and causal states (different degrees of principles). Empty Witness does not have a range, nor does nonduality, though they are experienced through the structural lens.

Every person has a center of gravity on the state range (likewise for structure), usually/ roughly in the middle of the subtle state, with occasional peaks to the upper range and drops to the lower. There can be peak experiences of causal and even nondual states, regardless of someone’s structural development (even for babies), but the way we experience those states  (how much we notice) depends on the structure. An example would be experiencing causal archetypes (principle properties of light) as angels, deities, demons, spirits, aliens, cosmic federations, etc, all coming from different narratives of the structural programming (usually intimately connected to our culture). They can absolutely be experienced for real, but likely (as I know), they are an illusion that our mind creates as it interprets simple and fundamental causal forms (or subtle energies). That’s why it is important to co-develop our self-structure together with our states of being. If we don’t, we can, indeed, experience Total Unity directly (Enlightment), but within a rather limited bandwidth. The more dimensions we add to the self-structure, the more our filter includes, and the richer, more unified, does our experience become.

Food Connects Everything

The 8D Food Approach aims to build a comprehensive evolutionary map that really captures everything. We build a structural framework to see the different layers of self-food, but also acknowledge the states. There is a physical aspect (food is made of matter), subtle aspects (the states of the self have a direct link with the dimensions of food; more conscious food has subtler [non-physical] layers), and even a causal element (I see the notion of “food” itself being one of the more fundamental causal archetypes of the Universe and connects *every layer* of Reality). This makes food a powerful tool to increase our consciousness individually and collectively, both in theory (structure) and practice (being).