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Susanne Cook-Greuter – Nature as Teacher: Finding Beauty, Wisdom, and Self in Everything
Episode 5722nd December 2022 • Deep Transformation • Deep Transformation Podcast
00:00:00 01:16:05

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Ep. 57 | Adult psychology pioneer and ego development expert Susanne Cook-Greuter introduces us to her favorite wisdom teacher: Nature. Susanne explains how Integral Theory’s 3-2-1 Process can be practiced with elements in nature to gain greater insight into the teachings of nature—evolution, cycles of life and death, the transience of life, the beauty that is everywhere—and to experience oneness with all. She notes that indigenous wisdom is based on deep connection with nature, and speaks of ubuntu, the concept of a shared humanity that reveals an entirely different understanding of self than what we have in the West.

Susanne’s is a uniquely valuable perspective, informed and inspired by her many years at the cutting edge of what we know about adult psychological growth and development, and from being an integralist from the beginning of Ken Wilber's Integral Theory project and a beloved elder in the worldwide Integral community today. Susanne explains that people at every stage of development have gifts to give that we need to pay attention to, and that individuals at later stages of development are not necessarily more virtuous because of it. Recorded November 15, 2021.

"It is not a separation. I am because you are, and you are because I am."

(For Apple Podcast users, click here to view the complete show notes on the episode page.)

Topics & Time Stamps

  • Introducing adult development pioneer Susanne Cook-Greuter, who integrated her cutting-edge psychological development research with the wisdom of the great traditions and Integral Theory (01:31)
  • Why nature is a better teacher than our human teachers (06:47)
  • The teachings of nature: the transience of life, evolution, cycles of life and death, and how indigenous knowledge is based on a real connection with nature (09:12)
  • Susanne introduces the 3-2-1 Nature Process, an Integral practice to gain wisdom and experience oneness (11:37)
  • The feeling of belonging to nature leads to acting ethically (18:40)
  • The need to re-own our fundamental connection with nature (21:51)
  • Finding beauty in everything (22:38)
  • Zen, developmental theory, humility, and ordinariness (27:29)
  • Paying attention to what people at all levels have to give (29:04)
  • Being at higher levels of development allows you to talk authentically with people at all levels and not get lost in abstraction (32:58)
  • The healing capacity of nature and the acquisition mindset that has brain-washed so many (36:10)
  • The deplorable state of children’s Christmas toys (40:53)
  • The miracle of our body (42:21)
  • What are some practical ways we can cultivate virtues? (43:30)
  • Ubuntu and indigenous wisdom’s completely different understanding of self (49:17)
  • The huge importance of role models to stimulate developmental growth, especially for children (50:55) 
  • Later stage people aren’t necessarily more virtuous (53:14)
  • How did we get into this mess? (58:22)
  • Let’s start with re-educating children and foster real play and imagination (01:00:20)
  • Susanne’s mission now: to describe the developmental model for lay people using a fable situated at Walden Pond (01:05:21)

Resources & References

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Susanne Cook-Greuter is one of the world’s leading experts in adult psychology and ego development theory. Her Harvard dissertation (1999) “Post-Autonomous Ego Development” addresses the farther reaches of human development. Susanne is a founding member of Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute and an elder in its community. She developed the MAP, a sentence completion assessment of vertical development and acts as the chief research and knowledge officer at VeDA (Vertical Development Academy). Together with Beena Sharma, she trains and supervises coaches in tailoring coaching to the stage of the client. 

Currently Susanne is focusing on writing a book on ego development. She also enjoys co-writing a fable with a colleague from Australia. It takes place around Walden Pond near her home, and uses local animals and her love of nature to share the idea of adult development with lay readers. Susanne loves life, all creatures (2-leggeds and others), grand-mothering, world-wide travel and good questions.


Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell



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