The human hive – the equivalent habitat for our species of the honeybee’s hive – represents man’s most complex system yet created.

In all its qualities – both dignities and disasters –  it is an expression of the deepest essence of man’s creative capacities. James Lovelock (2009) recently recognized homo sapiens as Gaia’s most reflective organ. If that is the case, then we might ask what are the qualities of a reflective organ and why would evolution call forth such a capacity?  In 1901, Nobel laureate and author of the “Life of the Bee” (a classical reference still consulted for its incisive observations) Maurice Maeterlinck (1954) observed in comparing humans to the honeybee, that the purpose of all evolutionary beings is  “read in the distinguishing organs, whereto the others are all subordinate”.  In the human, the “duty … flame … and spirit is “evident in the production of “cerebral substance” that spreads over the universe as an “incomprehensible flame”.

It would appear that, the concentration of our beings in the collective habitat of the city has the potential to add “purity, power, disinterestedness, and freedom to the ardor” (Maeterlinck, 1954) with which we create all manner of thoughts, actions, relationships and artefacts.  The city, thus, is a natural habitat for spirit and spirituality because it is an inborn quality of who we are.

This blog is an extract from the upcoming Integral City series, Book 3: Integral City 3.7: Reframing Complex Challenges for the Human Hive.