The term "integral" was used independently by both Sri Aurobindo and Jean Gebser. More recently, Ken Wilber has used the word to describe a key idea in his work. The simple definition of integral is "essential to completeness." However its use by Aurobindo, Gebser, and Wilber connotes a re-integration of aspects of the world that have been lost or severed in the modern western worldview. Some examples of this include body/soul, reason/imagination and individualism/collectivism. The integral perspective emphasizes the importance of seeing the interrelated nature of these binaries and the importance of balancing and integrating them. This view stresses the importance of taking into account the whole human embedded in her whole environment--inner and outer worlds, individual and collective realities. The interdependence of these worlds and how they mutually impact each other is seen as a reality that is not recognized in the modern, Western worldview.
From the integral perspective, human wellness, and the process of growth, healing, and transformation, can not neglect awareness of the whole individual. For example, if an individual has back pain, an integral healer considers not only physical causes (pulled muscle, slipped disc), but also emotional causes (stress held in body), spiritual causes (a misguided attempt to find meaning in material acquisition resulting in "back breaking" work), broad environmental causes (living in a culture that subsists on unhealthy food and promotes unhealthy lifestyles) and many others (social/relational, nutritional, subtle/energetic, developmental, existential, karmic...)
Science and art - intellect and imagination - must be reintegrated for a complex vision of the universe.
Central to the Integral perspective is the idea that humankind is evolving. As our knowledge and awarness increase, our worldview evolves--from primitive worldviews of several thousand years ago, to contemporary ideologies that recognize civil rights and environmental protections. Participating in this evolutionary process is thought to be among the most important of pursuits. The Integral movement argues that developing a worldview that reintegrates reason with imagination, individual concerns with collective concerns, and symbolically masculine impulses with symbolically feminine ones is a key evolutionary challenge facing our culture.
Ours is an age between worldviews, creative yet disoriented, a transitional era when the old cultural vision no longer holds and the new has not yet constellated. Yet we are not without signs of what the new might look like.