Ken Wilber: Wikis

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Kenneth "Ken" Wilber

Ken Wilber with Bernard Glassman (background)
Born January 31, 1949 (1949-01-31) (age 61)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
Occupation Author, Integral theorist
Integral movement
Historical integral thinkers:
Contemporary integral thinkers:
Integral themes:
Integral organizations:

Kenneth Earl Wilber II (born January 31, 1949) is an American author who has written about adult development, developmental psychology, philosophy, worldcentrism, ecology, and stages of faith. His work formulates what he calls Integral Theory. In 1998, he founded the Integral Institute, for teaching and applications of Integral theory.[1]

Contents

Biography

Ken Wilber was born on January 31, 1949 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1967, he enrolled as a pre-med student at Duke University,[2] and was almost immediately disillusioned with what science had to offer. He became inspired, like many of his generation, by Eastern literature, particularly the Tao Te Ching. He left Duke, enrolled in the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and completed a bachelor's degree in chemistry and biology.

In 1973, Wilber completed his first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness, in which he sought to integrate knowledge from disparate fields. After rejections by more than twenty publishers it was finally accepted in 1977 by Quest Books, and he spent a year giving lectures and workshops before going back to writing. He also helped to launch the journal ReVision in 1978.

In 1982, New Science Library published his anthology The Holographic Paradigm and other Paradoxes[3] a collection of essays and interviews, including one by David Bohm. The essays, including one of his own, looked at how the model of Holography and the Holographic paradigm relate to the fields of consciousness, mysticism and science.

In 1983, Wilber married Terry (Treya) Killam who was shortly thereafter diagnosed with breast cancer. From the fall of 1984 until 1987, Wilber gave up most of his writing to care for her. Treya died in January 1989; their joint experience was recorded in the 1991 book Grace and Grit.

Subsequently, Wilber wrote Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (SES), (1995), the first volume of his Kosmos Trilogy. A Brief History of Everything (1996) was the popularised summary of SES in interview format. The Eye of Spirit (1997) was a compilation of articles he had written for the journal ReVision on the relationship between science and religion. Throughout 1997, he had kept journals of his personal experiences, which were published in 1999 as One Taste, a term for unitary consciousness. Over the next two years his publisher, Shambhala Publications, released eight re-edited volumes of his Collected Works. In 1999, he finished Integral Psychology and wrote A Theory of Everything (2000). In A Theory of Everything Wilber attempts to bridge business, politics, science and spirituality and show how they integrate with theories of developmental psychology, such as Spiral Dynamics. His book, Boomeritis (2002), is a novel which attempts to expose what he perceives as the egotism of a generation born between 1945 and 1964, collectively known as the "Baby Boom Generation", "Baby Boomers" or "Boomers" for the booming number of births that took place during those years.

From 1987, Wilber lived in Boulder, Colorado, where he worked on his Kosmos trilogy and oversaw the work of the Integral Institute. Wilber now lives in Denver, Colorado.

Theory

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Wilber's holism

A key idea of Wilber's is the holon, which came from the writings of Arthur Koestler. He observed that it seems every entity and concept shares a dual nature: as a whole unto itself, and as a part of some other whole. For example, a cell in an organism is a whole and at the same time a part of another whole, the organism.[4]

Another example is that a letter is a self-existing entity and simultaneously an integral part of a word, which then is part of a sentence, which is part of a paragraph, which is part of a page; and so on. Everything from quarks to matter to energy to ideas can be looked at in this way.

In his book Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, Wilber outlines approximately twenty tenets that characterize all holons.[5] These tenets form the basis of Wilber's model of manifest reality.

AQAL: "All Quadrants All Levels"

AQAL (pronounced aqual or ah-qwul) represents the core of Wilber's work. AQAL stands for "all quadrants all levels", but equally connotes 'all lines', 'all states' and 'all types'. These are the five irreducible categories of Wilber's model of manifest existence. In order for an account of the Kosmos to be complete, Wilber believes that it must include each of these five categories. For Wilber, only such an account can be accurately called "integral." In the essay, "Excerpt C: The Ways We Are in This Together", Wilber describes AQAL as "one suggested architecture of the Kosmos".[6]

All of Wilber's AQAL categories—quadrants, lines, levels, states, and types—relate to relative truth in the two truths doctrine of Buddhism, to which he subscribes. According to Wilber, none of them are true in an absolute sense: only formless awareness, "the simple feeling of being," exists absolutely.[citation needed]

An account or theory is said to be AQAL, and thus integral (inclusive or comprehensive), if it accounts for or makes reference to all four quadrants and four major levels in Wilber's ontological scheme, described below.[citation needed] The AQAL system has been critiqued for not taking into account the lack of change in the biological structure of the brain at the human level (complex neocortex), this role being taken instead by human-made artifacts.[7]

Quadrants

Upper-Left (UL)

"I"
Interior Individual
Intentional

e.g. Freud

Upper-Right (UR)

"It"
Exterior Individual
Behavioral

e.g. Skinner

Lower-Left (LL)

"We"
Interior Collective
Cultural

e.g. Gadamer

Lower-Right (LR)

"Its"
Exterior Collective
Social

e.g. Marx

Each holon, or unit of reality that is both a whole and a part of a larger whole, has an interior and an exterior. It also exists as an individual and (assuming more than one of these entities exists) as a collective. Observing the holon from the outside constitutes an exterior perspective on that holon. Observing it from the inside is the interior perspective, and so forth. If you map these four perspectives into quadrants, you have four quadrants, or dimensions (these are unrelated to the three spatial dimensions).[citation needed]

To give an example of how this works, consider four schools of social science. Freudian psychoanalysis, which interprets people's interior experiences, is an account of the interior individual (or, in the diagram, the upper-left) quadrant. B. F. Skinner's behaviorism, which limits itself to the observation of the behavior of organisms, is an exterior individual (upper-right) account. Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics interprets the collective consciousness of a society, and is thus an interior plural (lower-left) perspective. Marxist economic theory, according to Wilber, examines the external behavior of a society (lower-right).

All four pursuits – psychoanalysis, behaviorism, philosophical hermeneutics and Marxism – offer complementary, rather than contradictory, perspectives. It is possible for all to be correct and necessary for a complete account of human existence. Also, each by itself offers only a partial view of reality. On his view, Wilber has integrated these four areas of knowledge through an acknowledgement of the four fundamental dimensions of existence. Further, according to Wilber, these four perspectives are equally valid at all levels of existence.[citation needed]

The right sides of the quadrants are concerned with empiric observation—what does it do? The left sides of the quadrants focus on interpretation—what does it mean? Wilber contends that modernity evidences a pathological separation from healthy evolution due to a near-complete focus on the right sides, with the denial of the left sides as having no meaning being a fundamental cause of society's malaise. This pathology is what Wilber calls "flatland".

Lines, streams, or intelligences

According to Wilber, all holons have multiple lines of development, or intelligences—in fact, over two dozen have been observed. They include cognitive, ethical, aesthetic, spiritual, kinesthetic, affective, musical, spatial, logical-mathematical, karmic, etc. One can be highly developed cognitively (cerebrally smart) without being highly morally developed (as in the case of Nazi doctors). However, Wilber acknowledges, you cannot be highly morally developed without the pre-requisite cognitive development. So not all of the developmental lines are ontologically equivalent.[citation needed]

Levels or stages

The concept of levels follows closely on the concept of lines of development. The more highly developed you are in a particular line, the higher level you are at in that line. Wilber's conception of the level is clearly based on several theories of developmental psychology, including: Piaget's theory of cognitive development, Kohlberg's stages of moral development, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Erikson's stages of psychosocial development, and Jane Loevinger's stages of ego development.

One such scheme describes the ethical developmental line, for example:

  • Egocentric (similar to Carol Gilligan's 'Selfish' stage)
  • Ethnocentric or Sociocentric (Gilligan's 'Care' stage)
  • Worldcentric (Gilligan's 'Universal Care' stage)
  • Being-centric (Gilligan's 'Integrated' stage)

Within each broad stage, there are sub-levels. Spiral Dynamics is one theory that elaborates on these sub-levels.

Another broad organization of the levels contains three categories:

  • pre-personal (subconscious motivations)
  • personal (conscious mental processes)
  • transpersonal (integrative and mystical structures)

This organization reveals more of Wilber's synthesizing activity. Freudian drives, Jungian archetypes, and myth are pre-personal structures. Empirical and rational processes are at the personal level. Transpersonal entities include, for example, Aurobindo's Overmind, Emerson's Oversoul, Plato's Forms, Plotinus' nous, and the Hindu Atman, or world-soul.

The exceptional feature of Wilber's approach is that, under this methodology, all of these mental structures—subconscious, rational, mystical—are considered complementary and legitimate, rather than competing in a zero-sum conceptual space. And that is perhaps Wilber's greatest accomplishment—the opening up of a space wherein more ideas, theories, beliefs, and stories can be considered true, responsible, and acceptable.

Many criticize the strict hierarchical nature of Wilber's conception of the level in psychological and cultural development, which he compares to the hierarchical nature of matter itself. Sub-atomic particles are composed of quarks. Atoms are made of sub-atomic particles. Molecules are made of atoms. Cell organelles are made of molecules, etc. One must attain the lower levels before the higher levels because the higher levels are constituted by the lower level components. Thus, when represented graphically, the levels should appear as concentric circles, with higher levels transcending but also including lower ones. Wilber also attacks the equating of hierarchy with patriarchy using a similar line of argument.

States

States refer to those aspects of consciousness that are temporal, passing, experiential, and phenomenal. Wilber's later works[8] develop close relations between states and levels/lines (or structures) but the relations between these two major aspects of consciousness are often misconstrued.[9] The misunderstanding is based on the idea that a person can "peak experience" a higher structure which, as Wilber has said, would be like a first year piano student playing for a moment like a seasoned virtuoso. Even though the vocabulary (subtle, causal, nondual) of states and of higher structures is similar, higher states do not equate with higher structures. Wilber's mantra to quell this misunderstanding is: "States are free but structures are earned." One has to build or earn structure, it can't be peak experienced for free. What can be peak experienced however are higher states of freedom from the structure one already inhabits so at any level one can experience these deeper/higher states.

In his book Integral Spirituality (Shambhala 2006) Wilber identifies a few varieties of states: the most important, with regard to the consciousness of most higher animals, are the three diurnal cycling natural states: waking, dreaming, and sleeping. Within waking and dreaming states there are phenomenal states which arise from interior sources such as bodily sensations, emotions, mental ideas, memories, or inspirations, or from exterior sources such as our sensorimotor inputs, seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting. A third category of states, altered states, is divided into two groups, 1) Exogenous or induced states: states which are intentionally generated from outside or exterior influences such as psychedelic and other drug-induced states; hypnosis and hypnotherapy; psycho-therapeutic techniques; gestalt therapy; psychodrama; voice dialogue techniques; biofeedback states; forms of guided imagery; and 2) Endogenous or trained states: states which are intentionally generated from inside or from interior influences such as various performance enhancement techniques in sports therapy; meditative training which work on calming, relaxation, equanimity states; and mental imaging and visualization such as tonglen meditation. Some techniques such as Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) work with both endogenous and exogenous types. A fourth category of states is spontaneous or peak states which refer to unintentional or unexpected shifts of awareness from gross to subtle or causal states of consciousness.[10]

Wilber has done extensive research[11] on connecting modern states research[12] with the understanding of states in the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta.[13] Aligning with Vedanta theory, Wilber equates waking with gross consciousness, dreaming with subtle consciousness, and sleeping with causal or formless consciousness. In keeping with the Vedanta system he adds fourth and fifth "natural" states of Turiya and Turiyatita, respectively Witnessing consciousness[14] and Nondual consciousness which technically are not states in that they are understood as being the state of all states.[15]

Types

These are valid distinctions that are not covered under Wilber’s other categorizations. Masculine/feminine, the nine Enneagram categories, and Jung's archetypes and typologies, among innumerable others, are all valid types in Wilber's schema. Wilber makes types part of his model in order to point out that these distinctions are different from, and in addition to the already mentioned distinctions: quadrants, lines, levels and states.[16]

Theory of truth

Wilber argues that manifest reality is composed of four domains, and that each domain, or "quadrant" has its own truth-standard, or test for validity, as follows:[17]

  Interior Exterior
Individual Standard: Truthfulness
(1st person)

(sincerity, integrity, trustworthiness)
Standard: Truth
(3rd person)

(correspondence,
representation, propositional)
Collective Standard: Justness
(2nd person)

(cultural fit, rightness,
mutual understanding)
Standard: Functional fit
(3rd person)

(systems theory web,
structural-functionalism,
social systems mesh)

Interior individual/1st person - "If we look at the actual interior of an individual [entity], then we have an entirely different type of validity claim. The question here is not, is it raining outside? The question here is, When I tell you it is raining outside, am I telling you the truth or am I lying? You see, here it is not so much a question of whether the map matches the objective territory, but whether the mapmaker can be trusted.... you can always check and see if it's raining... Interior events are located in states of consciousness, not in objective states of affairs, and so you can't empirically nail them down with simple consensus location. I might lie to you. I might lie to myself. I might misrepresent and not know it."[18]

Interior collective/2nd person - "The subjective world is situated in an intersubjective space, a cultural space... without this cultural background... I wouldn't have the tools to interpret my own thoughts to myself. So here the validity claim is not so much objective propositional truth, or subjective truthfulness, but intersubjective fit. This cultural background provides the common context against which my own interior thoughts and beliefs will have some sort of meaning, and so the validity criteria here involves the "cultural fit" [of a statement] within this background... What is so remarkable about common understanding is not that I can take a simple word like "dog" and point to a real dog and say "I mean that." What is so remarkable is that you know what I mean by that. [So it is] a matter of how we arrange collectively, our ethics, morals, laws, culture, group or collective identities, background contexts..."[18]

Exterior individual/3rd person - "We check to see if the proposition corresponds with or fits the facts, if the map accurately reflects the real [exterior] territory... if we cannot disprove it we may assume it is accurate enough. But the essential idea is that... my statement somehow refers to an objective state of affairs, and it fairly accurately somehow corresponds with those objects or processes or affairs. [...] All of which is fair enough and important enough, and I in no way deny the general importance of empirical representation. It's just not the whole story..."[18]

Exterior collective/3rd person - "The main validity claim is functional fit, how entities fit together in a system... So in systems theory you will find nothing about ethical standards, values, morals, mutual understanding, truthfulness, sincerity, depth, integrity, aesthetics... It describes the system in purely objective exterior terms, from without. It doesn't want to know how collective values are intersubjectively shared in mutual understanding. Rather, it looks at how their objective correlates functionally fit in the overall system."[18]

"All four of these are valid forms of knowledge, because they are grounded in the realities of the nature of every holon. And therefore all four of these truth claims can be confirmed or rejected by a community of the adequate [those competent in that knowledge]. They each have a different validity claim which carefully guides us, through checks and balances, on our knowledge quest. They are all falsifiable within their own domains, which means false claims can be dislodged by further evidence ...."[18]

The pre/trans fallacy

Wilber purports that many claims about non-rational states make a mistake he calls the pre/trans fallacy. According to Wilber, the non-rational stages of consciousness (what Wilber calls "pre-rational" and "trans-rational" stages) can be easily confused with one another. On Wilber's view, One can reduce trans-rational spiritual realization to pre-rational regression, or one can elevate pre-rational states to the trans-rational domain.[19] For example, Wilber claims that Freud and Jung commit this fallacy. Freud considered mystical realization to be a regression to infantile oceanic states. Wilber alleges that Freud thus commits a fallacy of reduction. Wilber thinks that Jung commits the converse form of the same mistake by considering pre-rational myths to reflect divine realizations. Likewise, pre-rational states may be misidentified as post-rational states.[20] Wilber characterizes himself as having fallen victim to the pre/trans fallacy in his early work.[21]

Mysticism and the great chain of being

One of Wilber's main interests is in mapping what he calls the "neo-perennial philosophy", an integration of some of the views of mysticism typified by Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy with an account of cosmic evolution akin to that of the Indian mystic Sri Aurobindo. He rejects most of the tenets of Perennialism and the associated anti-evolutionary view of history as a regression from past ages or yugas.[22] Instead, he embraces a more traditionally Western notion of the great chain of being. As in the work of Jean Gebser, this great chain (or "nest") is ever-present while "relatively" unfolding throughout this material manifestation, although to Wilber "... the 'Great Nest' is actually just a vast morphogenetic field of potentials ..." In agreement with Mahayana Buddhism, and Advaita Vedanta, he believes that reality is ultimately a nondual union of emptiness and form, with form being innately subject to development over time.

Wilber argues for the value of mystical realization and in opposition to metaphysical naturalism:

Are the mystics and sages insane? Because they all tell variations on the same story, don't they? The story of awakening one morning and discovering you are one with the All, in a timeless and eternal and infinite fashion. Yes, maybe they are crazy, these divine fools. Maybe they are mumbling idiots in the face of the Abyss. Maybe they need a nice, understanding therapist. Yes, I'm sure that would help. But then, I wonder. Maybe the evolutionary sequence really is from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit, each transcending and including, each with a greater depth and greater consciousness and wider embrace. And in the highest reaches of evolution, maybe, just maybe, an individual's consciousness does indeed touch infinity—a total embrace of the entire Kosmos—a Kosmic consciousness that is Spirit awakened to its own true nature. It's at least plausible. And tell me: is that story, sung by mystics and sages the world over, any crazier than the scientific materialism story, which is that the entire sequence is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing? Listen very carefully: just which of those two stories actually sounds totally insane?

Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, 42–3

Wilber on science

Wilber describes the current state of the "hard" sciences as limited to "narrow science", which only allows evidence from the lowest realm of consciousness, the sensorimotor (the five senses and their extensions). What he calls "broad science" would include evidence from logic, mathematics, and from the symbolic, hermeneutical, and other realms of consciousness. Ultimately and ideally, broad science would include the testimony of meditators and spiritual practitioners. Wilber's own conception of science includes both narrow science and broad science, e.g., using electroencephalogram machines and other technologies to test the experiences of meditators and other spiritual practitioners, creating what Wilber calls "integral science".[citation needed]

According to Wilber's theory, narrow science trumps narrow religion, but broad science trumps narrow science. That is, the natural sciences provide a more inclusive, accurate account of reality than any of the particular exoteric religious traditions. But an integral approach that evaluates both religious claims and scientific claims based on intersubjectivity is preferable to narrow science.[citation needed]

Current work

In 2005, at the launch of the Integral Spiritual Center, a branch of the Integral Institute, Wilber presented a 118-page rough draft summary of his two forthcoming books.[23] The essay is entitled "What is Integral Spirituality?", and contains several new ideas, including Integral post-metaphysics and the Wilber-Combs lattice.

"Integral post-metaphysics" is the term Wilber has given to his attempts to reconstruct the world's spiritual-religious traditions in a way that accounts for the modern and post-modern criticisms of those traditions.[citation needed]

The Wilber-Combs Lattice is a conceptual model of consciousness developed by Wilber and Allan Combs. It is a grid with sequential states of consciousness on the x axis (from left to right) and with developmental structures, or levels, of consciousness on the y axis (from bottom to top). This lattice illustrates how each structure of consciousness interprets experiences of different states of consciousness, including mystical states, in different ways.[citation needed]

Influences on Wilber

Wilber's philosophy has been influenced by Madhyamaka Buddhism, particularly as articulated in the philosophy of Nagarjuna.[24] Wilber has practiced various forms of Buddhist meditation, studying with a number of teachers, including Dainin Katagiri, Taizan Maezumi, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, Penor Rinpoche and Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. Advaita Vedanta, Trika (Kashmir) Shaivism, Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Ramana Maharshi, and Andrew Cohen can be mentioned as further influences. Wilber has on several occasions singled out Adi Da's work for the highest praise (while expressing reservations about Adi Da as a teacher).[25] In Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Wilber refers extensively to Plotinus' philosophy, which he sees as nondual. While Wilber has practised Buddhist meditation methods, he does not identify himself as a Buddhist.[26]

Wilber's conception of spiritual evolution and psychological development and "the great nest of being" draws on Adi Da, Sri Aurobindo, James Mark Baldwin, Erik Erikson, Howard Gardner, Jean Gebser, German idealism, Clare W. Graves (Spiral Dynamics), Jürgen Habermas, Erich Jantsch, Robert Kegan, Lawrence Kohlberg, Abraham Maslow, Jean Piaget, and Plotinus.

Reception

Wilber has been categorized as New Age due to his emphasis on a transpersonal view[27], and more recently, as a philosopher.[28]

Wilber is credited with popularizing, if not inventing, the field of Integral Thought, broadening the appeal of a "perennial philosophy" to a much wider audience. Cultural figures as varied as as Bill Clinton[29], Al Gore, Deepak Chopra, and musician Billy Corgan have mentioned his influence.[30] But Wilber's approach has been criticized as excessively categorizing and objectifying, masculinist,[31][32] and denigrating of emotion.[33] Numerous critics cite problems with Wilber's interpretations and inaccurate citations of his wide ranging sources, as well as stylistic issues with gratuitous repetition, book length, and hyperbole.[34]

Steve McIntosh praises Wilber's work but also argues that Wilber fails to distinguish 'philosophy' from his own Vedantic and Buddhist religion.[7] Christopher Bache is complimentary of some aspects of Wilber's work, but calls Wilber's writing style glib and superior and suggests that Wilber tends to overlook the more complicated aspects of spiritual purification and past-life interpretation.[35]

Jennifer Gidley Research Fellow at RMIT University Melbourne, points to the need in the 21st century to create conceptual bridges between integral philosophy and pedagogy and other related philosophical and pedagogical approaches. She undertook a comparative study of key evolution of consciousness thinkers, focusing particularly on the integral theoretic narratives of Rudolf Steiner, Jean Gebser, and Ken Wilber (but also with due reference to the seminal writings of Sri Aurobindo and those of contemporary European integral theorists such as Ervin Laszlo and Edgar Morin. She noted the conceptual breadth of Wilber's integral evolutionary narrative in transcending both scientism and epistemological isolationism. She also drew attention to some limitations of Wilber’s integral project, notably his undervaluing of Gebser's actual text, and the substantial omission of the pioneering contribution of Steiner, who, as early as 1904 wrote extensively about the evolution of consciousness, including the imminent emergence of a new stage.[36] As a contribution to the knowledge base of integral education Gidley has also undertaken a hermeneutic comparative analysis of Rudolf Steiner's educational approach and Wilber's Integral Operating System. [37]

Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof has praised Wilber's knowledge and work in the highest terms;[38] however, Grof has criticized the omission of the pre-natal and peri-natal domains from Wilber's spectrum of consciousness, and Wilber's neglect of the psychological importance of biological birth and death.[39] Grof has described Wilber's writings as having an "often aggressive polemical style that includes strongly worded ad personam attacks and is not condusive to personal dialogue."[40]

Bibliography

  • The Spectrum of Consciousness, 1977, anniv. ed. 1993: ISBN 0-8356-0695-3
  • No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth, 1979, reprint ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-743-6
  • The Atman Project: A Transpersonal View of Human Development, 1980, 2nd ed. ISBN 0-8356-0730-5
  • Up from Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution, 1981, new ed. 1996: ISBN 0-8356-0731-3
  • The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes: Exploring the Leading Edge of Science (editor), 1982, ISBN 0-394-71237-4
  • A Sociable God: A Brief Introduction to a Transcendental Sociology, 1983, new ed. 2005 subtitled Toward a New Understanding of Religion, ISBN 1-59030-224-9
  • Eye to Eye: The Quest for the New Paradigm, 1984, 3rd rev. ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-741-X
  • Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World's Great Physicists (editor), 1984, rev. ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-768-1
  • Transformations of Consciousness: Conventional and Contemplative Perspectives on Development (co-authors: Jack Engler, Daniel Brown), 1986, ISBN 0-394-74202-8
  • Spiritual Choices: The Problem of Recognizing Authentic Paths to Inner Transformation (co-authors: Dick Anthony, Bruce Ecker), 1987, ISBN 0-913729-19-1
  • Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life of Treya Killam Wilber, 1991, 2nd ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-742-8
  • Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, 1st ed. 1995, 2nd rev. ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-744-4
  • A Brief History of Everything, 1st ed. 1996, 2nd ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-740-1
  • The Eye of Spirit: An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad, 1997, 3rd ed. 2001: ISBN 1-57062-871-8
  • The Essential Ken Wilber: An Introductory Reader, 1998, ISBN 1-57062-379-1
  • The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion, 1998, reprint ed. 1999: ISBN 0-7679-0343-9
  • One Taste: The Journals of Ken Wilber, 1999, rev. ed. 2000: ISBN 1-57062-547-6
  • Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy, 2000, ISBN 1-57062-554-9
  • A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality, 2000, paperback ed.: ISBN 1-57062-855-6
  • Speaking of Everything (2 hour audio interview on CD), 2001
  • Boomeritis: A Novel That Will Set You Free, 2002, paperback ed. 2003: ISBN 1-59030-008-4
  • Kosmic Consciousness (12½ hour audio interview on ten CDs), 2003, ISBN 1-59179-124-3
  • With Cornel West, commentary on The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions and appearance in Return To Source: Philosophy & The Matrix on The Roots Of The Matrix, both in The Ultimate Matrix Collection, 2004
  • The Simple Feeling of Being: Visionary, Spiritual, and Poetic Writings, 2004, ISBN 1-59030-151-X (selected from earlier works)
  • The Integral Operating System (a 69 page primer on AQAL with DVD and 2 audio CDs), 2005, ISBN 1-59179-347-5
  • Executive producer of the Stuart Davis DVDs Between the Music: Volume 1 and Volume 2.
  • Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World, 2006, ISBN 1-59030-346-6
  • The One Two Three of God (3 CDs - interview, 4th CD - guided meditation; companion to Integral Spirituality), 2006, ISBN 1-59179-531-1
  • Integral Life Practice Starter Kit (5 DVDs, 2 CDs, 3 booklets), 2006, ISBN 0-97722750-2
  • The Integral Vision: A Very Short Introduction to the Revolutionary Integral Approach to Life, God, the Universe, and Everything, 2007, ISBN 1-59030-475-6
  • Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening, 2008, ISBN 1-590-30467-5
  • The Pocket Ken Wilber, 2008, ISBN 1-590-30637-6

See also

References

  1. ^ Integral Institute
  2. ^ Tony Schwartz, What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America, Bantam, 1996, ISBN 0-553-37492-3, p348
  3. ^ The Holographic Paradigm and other paradoxes, 1982, ISBN 0-87773-253-3
  4. ^ The relation between individuals and society is not the same as between cells and organisms because individual holons can be members but not parts of social holons. See A Miracle Called "We" in Integral Spirituality and http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptA/notes-1.cfm.
  5. ^ Wilber, Ken; Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, 1995, p. 35-78
  6. ^ "Excerpt C: The Ways We Are In This Together". Ken Wilber Online. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptC/intro-1.cfm. Retrieved December 26, 2005. 
  7. ^ a b Steve McIntosh, Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution, Paragon House, St Paul Minnesota, 2007, ISBN 978-1-55778-867-2 pp.227f.
  8. ^ Wilber, Ken. (2006). Integral spirituality: A startling new role for religion in the modern and post-modern world. Boston, MA: Shambhala
  9. ^ Edwards, Mark (2008). “An Alternative View on States: Part One and Two. Retrieved in full 3/08 from http://www.integralworld.net/edwards14.html
  10. ^ Maslow, A. (1970). Religions, values, and peak experiences. New York: Penguin; McFetridge, Grant (2004). Peak states of consciousness: Theory and applications, vol. 1, Break-through techniques for exceptional quality of life. Hornsby Island, BC: Institute for the Study of Peak States Press; Bruce, R. (1999). Astral dynamics: A new approach to out-of-body experiences. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads
  11. ^ Wilber, Ken. (1997). Eye of the spirit: An integral vision for a world gone slightly mad. Boston, MA: Shambhala; Wilber, Ken. (2000). Integral psychology: Consciousness, spirit, psychology, therapy. Boston, MA: Shambhala; Wilber, Ken. (2006). Integral spirituality: A startling new role for religion in the modern and post-modern world. Boston, MA: Shambhala.
  12. ^ Tart, Charles (1983). States of consciousness, Author’s Guild reprint edition 2000. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.com. Inc.; Wolman, B., Ullman, M., eds (1986). Handbook of states of consciousness. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company; Grob, Charles S., ed. (2002). Hallucinogens: A reader (contributions by A. Weil, A. Hofmann, R. Walsh, T. McKenna, H. Smith, R. Metzner, others). New York: Tarcher-Putnam.; Grof, Stan (2000). Psychology of the future: Lessons from modern consciousness research. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  13. ^ Deutsch, Elliot. (1969). Advaita Vedanta: A philosophical reconstruction. Honolulu, HI: Univ. of Hawaii Press; Sharma, Arvind (2004). Sleep As a State of Consciousness in Advaita Vedanta. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  14. ^ Gupta, Bina (1998). The disinterested witness: A fragment of Advaita Vedanta phenomenology. Evanston, IL: Northwestern Univ. Press.
  15. ^ Wilber, Ken. (2006). Integral spirituality, chapter 3. Boston, MA: Shambhala.
  16. ^ Wilber, Ken (1996). A Brief History of Everything. Boston and London: Shambhala. pp. 209–218. ISBN 1-57062-187-X. 
  17. ^ Wilber, Ken (1998). The Eye of Spirit. Boston: Shambhala. pp. 12–18. ISBN 1-57062-345-7. 
  18. ^ a b c d e Table and quotations from: Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, 2nd edition, ISBN 1-57062-740-1 p. 96–109
  19. ^ Introduction to the third volume of The Collected Works of Ken Wilber
  20. ^ "The pre/trans fallacy". http://www.praetrans.com/en/ptf.html. 
  21. ^ "The introduction to Volume 1 of The Collected Works of Ken Wilber". Ken Wilber Online. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/cowokev1_intro.cfm. 
  22. ^ "I have not identified myself with the perennial philosophy in over fifteen years ... Many of the enduring perennial philosophers—such as Nagarjuna—were already using postmetaphysical methods, which is why their insights are still quite valid. But the vast majority of perennial philosophers were caught in metaphysical, not critical, thought, which is why I reject their methods almost entirely, and accept their conclusions only to the extent they can be reconstructed"[1]
  23. ^ "What is Integral Spirituality?" (PDF). Integral Spiritual Center. http://integralspiritualcenter.org/Integral%20Spirituality.pdf. Retrieved December 26, 2005.  (1.3 MB PDF file)
  24. ^ "The Kosmos According to Ken Wilber: A Dialogue with Robin Kornman". Shambhala Sun. September 1996. http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2059. Retrieved 2006-06-14. 
  25. ^ "http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/misc/adida.cfm/". http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/misc/adida.cfm/. 
  26. ^ # Kosmic Consciousness (12 hour audio interview on ten CDs), 2003, ISBN 1-59179-124-3
  27. ^ Wouter J. Hanegraaff, New Age Religion and Western Culture, SUNY, 1998, pp.70 ("Ken Wilber [...] defends a transpersonal worldview which qualifies as 'New Age'").
  28. ^ Marian de Souza (ed.), International handbook of the religious, moral and spiritual dimensions in education. Dordrecht: Springer 2006, p. 93. ISBN 978-1-4020-4803-6.
  29. ^ Planetary Problem Solver, Newsweek, Jan 4, 2010
  30. ^ http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/04/28/ken_wilber/
  31. ^ Thompson, Coming into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness pp.12-13
  32. ^ Chapter 5 (Integral or muscular spirituality?) in Numen, Old Men: Contemporary Masculine Spiritualities and the Problem of Patriarchy, 2009: ISBN 978-1845534196
  33. ^ de Quincey, Christian (Winter 2000). "The Promise of Integralism: A Critical Appreciation of Ken Wilber's Integral Psychology". Journal of Consciousness Studies. Vol. 7(11/12). http://www.deepspirit.com/sys-tmpl/thepromiseofintegralism/. Retrieved 2006-06-15. 
  34. ^ http://www.integralworld.net/visser11.html
  35. ^ Notes to Chapter 6 of Dark Night Early Dawn: Steps to a Deep Ecology of Mind SUNY Press, 2000
  36. ^ Gidley, J. The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative: An Integration of Integral Views, Integral Review: A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal for New Thought, Research and Praxis, 2007, Issue 5, p. 4-226.]
  37. ^ Gidley, J. Educational Imperatives of the Evolution of Consciousness: The Integral Visions of Rudolf Steiner and Ken Wilber, The International Journal of Children’s Spirituality. 12 (2): 170-135.]
  38. ^

    ...Ken has produced an extraordinary work of highly creative synthesis of data drawn from a vast variety of areas and disciplines...His knowledge of the literature is truly encyclopedic, his analytical mind systematic and incisive, and the clarity of his logic remarkable. The impressive scope, comprehensive nature, and intellectual rigor of Ken's work have helped to make it a widely acclaimed and highly influential theory of transpersonal psychology.

    Stanislav Grof, "Ken Wilber's Spectrum Psychology"
  39. ^ Grof, Beyond the Brain, 131-137
  40. ^ Grof, "A Brief History of Transpersonal Psychology"[2]

Further reading

  • Lew Howard, Introducing Ken Wilber, May 2005, ISBN 1-4208-2986-6
  • Raphael Meriden, Entfaltung des Bewusstseins: Ken Wilbers Vision der Evolution, 2002, ISBN 88-87198-05-5
  • Brad Reynolds, Embracing Reality: The Integral Vision of Ken Wilber: A Historical Survey and Chapter-By-Chapter Review of Wilber's Major Works, 2004, ISBN 1-58542-317-3
  • ----- Where's Wilber At?: Ken Wilber's Integral Vision in the New Millennium, 2006, ISBN 1-55778-846-4
  • Donald Jay Rothberg and Sean Kelly, Ken Wilber in Dialogue: Conversations With Leading Transpersonal Thinkers, 1998, ISBN 0-8356-0766-6
  • Frank Visser, Ken Wilber: Thought As Passion, SUNY Press, 2003, ISBN 0-7914-5816-4, (first published in Dutch as Ken Wilber: Denken als passie, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2001)
  • Joseph Vrinte, Perennial Quest for a Psychology with a Soul: An inquiry into the relevance of Sri Aurobindo's metaphysical yoga psychology in the context of Ken Wilber's integral psychology, Motilal Banarsidass, 2002, ISBN 81-208-1932-2

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I have one major rule: everybody is right. More specifically, everybody — including me — has some important pieces of the truth, and all of those pieces need to be honored, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace.

Kenneth Earl Wilber Jr. (born 31 January 1949) is an American author who writes on psychology, philosophy, mysticism, ecology, and spiritual evolution. His work formulates what he calls an "integral theory of consciousness." He is a leading proponent of the integral movement and founded the Integral Institute in 1998.

Contents

Sourced

At this point in history, the most radical, pervasive, and earth-shaking transformation would occur simply if everybody truly evolved to a mature, rational, and responsible ego, capable of freely participating in the open exchange of mutual self-esteem...
The real intent of my writing is not to say, you must think in this way. The real intent is: here are some of the many important facets of this extraordinary Kosmos; have you thought about including them in your own worldview?
It is the nothing, the Mystery, the Emptiness alone that needs to be realized: not known but felt, not thought but breathed, not an object but an atmosphere, not a lesson but a life.
  • In fact, at this point in history, the most radical, pervasive, and earth-shaking transformation would occur simply if everybody truly evolved to a mature, rational, and responsible ego, capable of freely participating in the open exchange of mutual self-esteem. There is the "edge of history." There would be a real New Age.
    • Up From Eden (1981)
  • Modern science is no longer denying spirit. And that, that is epochal. As Hans Küng remarked, the standard answer to "Do you believe in Spirit?" used to be, "Of course not, I'm a scientist," but it might very soon become, "Of course I believe in Spirit. I'm a scientist."
    • The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes: Exploring the Leading Edge of Science (1982), Introduction
  • Prana is implicate to matter but explicate to mind; mind is implicate to prana but explicate to soul; soul is implicate to mind but explicate to spirit; and the spirit is the source and suchness of the entire sequence.
    • Eye to Eye: The Quest for the New Paradigm (1984)
  • The real intent of my writing is not to say, you must think in this way. The real intent is: here are some of the many important facets of this extraordinary Kosmos; have you thought about including them in your own worldview? My work is an attempt to make room in the Kosmos for all of the dimensions, levels, domains, waves, memes, modes, individuals, cultures, and so on ad infinitum. I have one major rule: Everybody is right. More specifically, everybody — including me — has some important pieces of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honored, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace. To Freudians I say, Have you looked at Buddhism? To Buddhists I say, Have you studied Freud? To liberals I say, Have you thought about how important some conservative ideas are? To conservatives I say, Can you perhaps include a more liberal perspective? And so on, and so on, and so on... At no point I have ever said: Freud is wrong, Buddha is wrong, liberals are wrong, conservatives are wrong. I have only suggested that they are true but partial. My critical writings have never attacked the central beliefs of any discipline, only the claims that the particular discipline has the only truth — and on those grounds I have often been harsh. But every approach, I honestly believe, is essentially true but partial, true but partial, true but partial.
    And on my own tombstone, I dearly hope that someday they will write: He was true but partial...
  • My ankle hurts from dancing last night so there is pain. But the pain doesn't hurt me for there is no me.
    • One Taste (2000)
  • In other words, all of my books are lies. They are simply maps of a territory, shadows of a reality, gray symbols dragging their bellies across the dead page, suffocated signs full of muffled sound and faded glory, signifying absolutely nothing. And it is the nothing, the Mystery, the Emptiness alone that needs to be realized: not known but felt, not thought but breathed, not an object but an atmosphere, not a lesson but a life.
    • "Foreword" to Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (2000) by Frank Visser
  • An integral approach is based on one basic idea: no human mind can be 100% wrong. Or, we might say, nobody is smart enough to be wrong all the time. And that means, when it comes to deciding which approaches, methodologies, epistemologies, or ways or knowing are "correct," the answer can only be, "All of them." That is, all of the numerous practices or paradigms of human inquiry — including physics, chemistry, hermeneutics, collaborative inquiry, meditation, neuroscience, vision quest, phenomenology, structuralism, subtle energy research, systems theory, shamanic voyaging, chaos theory, developmental psychology—all of those modes of inquiry have an important piece of the overall puzzle of a total existence that includes, among other many things, health and illness, doctors and patients, sickness and healing.

Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995, 2000)

The single greatest world transformation would simply be the embrace of global reasonableness and pluralistic tolerance...
  • It is the integrative power of vision-logic, I believe, and not the indissociation of tribal magic or the imperialism of mythic involvement that is deperately needed on a global scale. For it is vision-logic with its centauric/planetary worldview that, in my opinion, holds the only hope for the integration of the biosphere and the noosphere, the supranational organization of planetary consciousness, the genuine recognition of ecological balance, the unrestrained and unforced forms of global discourse, the nondominating and noncoercive forms of federated states, the unrestrained flow of worldwide communicative exchange, the production of genuine world citizens, and the enculturation of female agency (i.e., the integration of male and female, in both the noosphere and the biosphere) — all of which, in my opinion, is nevertheless simply the platform for the truly interesting forms of higher and transpersonal states of consciousness lying in our collective future — if there is one.
  • The single greatest world transformation would simply be the embrace of global reasonableness and pluralistic tolerance — the global embrace of egoic-rationality (on the way to centauric vision-logic).
  • In other words, the real problem is not exterior. The real problem is interior. The real problem is how to get people to internally transform, from egocentric to sociocentric to worldcentric consciousness, which is the only stance that can grasp the global dimensions of the problem in the first place, and thus the only stance that can freely, even eagerly, embrace global solutions.
"Saving the biosphere" depends first and foremost on human beings reaching mutual understanding and unforced agreement as to common ends.
  • Global consciousness is not an objective belief that can be taught to anybody and everybody, but a subjective transformation in the interior structures that can hold belief in the first place, which itself is the product of a long line of inner consciousness development.
  • The more we emphasize teaching a merely Right-Hand map of systems theory or a Gaia Web of Life, instead of equally emphasizing the importance of interior development from egocentric to sociocentric to worldcentric, then the more we are contributing to Gaia's demise.
  • "Saving the biosphere" depends first and foremost on human beings reaching mutual understanding and unforced agreement as to common ends. And that intersubjective accord occurs only in the noosphere. Anything short of that noospheric accord will continue to destroy the biosphere.

A Brief History of Everything (1996)

There is intersubjectivity woven into the very fabric of the Kosmos at all levels.
  • Are the mystics and sages insane? Because they all tell variations on the same story, don't they? The story of awakening one morning and discovering you are one with the All, in a timeless and eternal and infinite fashion. Yes, maybe they are crazy, these divine fools. Maybe they are mumbling idiots in the face of the Abyss. Maybe they need a nice, understanding therapist. Yes, I'm sure that would help. But then, I wonder. Maybe the evolutionary sequence really is from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit, each transcending and including, each with a greater depth and greater consciousness and wider embrace. And in the highest reaches of evolution, maybe, just maybe, an individual's consciousness does indeed touch infinity — a total embrace of the entire Kosmos — a Kosmic consciousness that is Spirit awakened to its own true nature. It's at least plausible. And tell me: is that story, sung by mystics and sages the world over, any crazier than the scientific materialism story, which is that the entire sequence is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing? Listen very carefully: just which of those two stories actually sounds totally insane?
    • p. 42
  • Gaia's main problems are not industrialization, ozone depletion, overpopulation, or resource depletion. Gaia's main problem is the lack of mutual understanding and mutual agreement in the noosphere about how to proceed with those problems. We cannot rein in industry if we cannot reach mutual understanding and mutual agreement based on a worldcentric moral perspective concerning the global commons. And we reach the worldcentric moral perspective through a difficult and laborious process of interior growth and transcendence.
  • Spirit slumbers in nature, awakens in mind, and finally recognizes itself as Spirit in the transpersonal domains.
  • There is intersubjectivity woven into the very fabric of the Kosmos at all levels.

The Eye of Spirit : An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad (1997)

We move from part to whole and back again, and in that dance of comprehension, in that amazing circle of understanding, we come alive to meaning, to value, and to vision...
  • We move from part to whole and back again, and in that dance of comprehension, in that amazing circle of understanding, we come alive to meaning, to value, and to vision: the very circle of understanding guides our way, weaving together the pieces, healing the fractures, mending the torn and tortured fragments, lighting the way ahead — this extraordinary movement from part to whole and back again, with healing the hallmark of each and every step, and grace the tender reward.
The integral vision embodies an attempt to take the best of both worlds, ancient and modern. But that demands a critical stance willing to reject unflinchingly the worst of both as well.
  • The integral approach is committed to the full spectrum of consciousness as it manifests in all its extraordinary diversity. This allows the integral approach to recognize and honor the Great Holarchy of Being first elucidated by the perennial philosophy and the great wisdom traditions in general.... The integral vision embodies an attempt to take the best of both worlds, ancient and modern. But that demands a critical stance willing to reject unflinchingly the worst of both as well.
  • An acknowledgment of the full spectrum of consciousness would profoundly alter the course of every one of the modern disciplines it touches — and that, of course, is an essential aspect of integral studies... A full-spectrum approach to human consciousness and behavior means that men and women have available to them a spectrum of knowing — a spectrum that includes, at the very least, the eye of flesh, the eye of mind, and the eye of spirit.
  • The integral vision, I believe, is more than happy to welcome empirical science as a part — a very important part — of the endeavor to befriend the Kosmos, to be attuned to its many moods and flavors and facets and forms. But a more integral psychology goes beyond that . . . With science we touch the True, the "It" of Spirit. With morals we touch the Good, the "We" of Spirit. What, then, would an integral approach have to say about the Beautiful, the "I" of Spirit itself? What is the Beauty that is in the eye of the Beholder? When we are in the eye of Spirit, the I of Spirit, what do we finally see?
Anybody can they say they are being "spiritual" — and they are, because everybody has some type and level of concern. Let us therefore see their actual conception, in thought and action...
  • Anybody can they say they are being "spiritual" — and they are, because everybody has some type and level of concern. Let us therefore see their actual conception, in thought and action, and see how many perspectives it is in fact concerned with, and how many perspectives it actually takes into account, and how many perspectives it attempts to integrate, and thus let us see how deep and how wide runs that bodhisattva vow to refuse rest until all perspectives whatsoever are liberated into their own primordial nature.
  • The Realization of the Nondual traditions is uncompromising: There is only Spirit, there is only God, there is only Emptiness in all its radiant wonder. All the good and all the evil, the very best and the very worst, the upright and the degenerate — each and all are radically perfect manifestations of Spirit precisely as they are. There is nothing but God, nothing but the Goddess, nothing but Spirit in all directions, and not a grain of sand, not a speck of dust, is more or less Spirit than any other.

The Marriage of Sense and Soul (1998)

If some sort of reconciliation between science and religion is not forthcoming, the future of humanity is, at best, precarious.
  • There is arguably no more important and pressing topic than the relation of science and religion in the modern world. Science is clearly one of the most profound methods that humans have yet devised for discovering truth, while religion remains the single greatest force for generating meaning. Truth and meaning, science and religion; but we still cannot figure out how to get the two of them together in a fashion that both find acceptable.
  • These two enormous forces — truth and meaning — are at war in today's world. ...And something sooner or later has to give.
  • Within the scientific skeleton of truth, religious meaning attempts to flourish, often by denying the scientific framework itself — rather like sawing off the branch where you cheerily perch. The disgust is mutual because modern science gleefully denies virtually all the basic tenets of religion in general. According to the typical view of modern science, religion is not much more than a holdover from the childhood of humanity, with about as much reality as, say, Santa Claus. Whether the religious claims are more literal (Moses parting the Red Sea) or more mystical (religion invovlves direct spiritual experience) modern science denies them all, simply because there is no credible empirical evidence for any of them.
  • This is a massive and violent schism and rupture in the internal organs of today's global culture and this is exactly why many social analysts believe that if some sort of reconciliation between science and religion is not forthcoming, the future of humanity is, at best, precarious.

An Integral Spirituality

"An Integral Spirituality" (Beliefnet Essay 1)
Attunement could occur through any of the great religions, but would be tied exclusively to none of them...
Spirit, although existing "out there," is found "in here," or revealed within to the open heart and mind.
  • 'What's my philosophy? In a word, integral. And what on earth — or in heaven — do I mean by "integral"? The dictionary meaning is fairly simple: "comprehensive, balanced, inclusive, essential for completeness." Short definition, tall order.
  • We have, for the first time in history, easy access to all of the world's great religions. Examine the many great traditions — from Christianity to Buddhism, Islam to Taoism, Paganism to Neoplatonism — and you are struck by two items: there are an enormous number of differences between them, and a handful of striking similarities.
    When you find a few essential items that all, or virtually all, of the world's great religions agree on, you have probably found something incredibly important about the human condition, at least as important as, say, a few things that physicists can manage to agree on (which nowadays, by the way, ain't all that impressive).
  • These similarities would seem to suggest, among other things, that there are spiritual patterns at work in the universe, at least as far as we can tell, and these spiritual patterns announce themselves with impressive regularity wherever human hearts and minds attempt to attune themselves to the cosmos in all its radiant dimensions.
  • The human organism itself seems to be hardwired for these deep spiritual patterns, although not necessarily for the specific ways that they show up in a particular religion important as those are. Rather, the human being seems imbued by the realities suggested by these cross-cultural spiritual currents and patterns, with which individual religions and spiritual movements resonate, according to their own capacities and to their own degrees of fidelity.
  • Attunement could occur through any of the great religions, but would be tied exclusively to none of them. A person could be attuned to an "integral spirituality" while still be a practicing Christian, Buddhist, New-Age advocate, or Neopagan. This would be something added to one's religion, not subtracted from it. The only thing it would subtract (and there's no way around this) is the belief that one's own path is the only true path to salvation.
  • Finally, integral spirituality — as the very name "integral" implies — transcends and includes science, it does not exclude, repress, or deny science. To say that the spiritual currents of the cosmos cannot be captured by empirical science is not to say that they deny science, only that they show their face to other methods of seeking knowledge, of which the world has an abundance.
  • Let me start with a short and simple list. This is not the last word on the topic, but the first word, a simple list of suggestions to get the conversation going. Most of the great wisdom traditions agree that:
    1. Spirit, by whatever name, exists.
    2. Spirit, although existing "out there," is found "in here," or revealed within to the open heart and mind.

    3. Most of us don't realize this Spirit within, however, because we are living in a world of sin, separation, or duality — that is, we are living in a fallen, illusory, or fragmented state.
    4. There is a way out of this fallen state (of sin or illusion or disharmony), there is a Path to our liberation.
    5. If we follow this Path to its conclusion, the result is a Rebirth or Enlightenment, a direct experience of Spirit within and without, a Supreme Liberation, which
    6. marks the end of sin and suffering, and
    7. manifests in social action of mercy and compassion on behalf of all sentient beings.
    Does a list something like that make sense to you? Because if there are these general spiritual patterns in the cosmos, at least wherever human beings appear, then this changes everything. You can be a practicing Christian and still agree with that list; you can be a practicing Neopagan and still agree with that list.

Why Do Religions Teach Love and Yet Cause So Much War?

"Why Do Religions Teach Love and Yet Cause So Much War?" (Beliefnet Essay 2)"
If humanity is ever to cease its swarming hostilities and be united in one family, without squashing the significant and important differences among us, then something like an integral approach seems the only way.
  • It seems as if there are almost two different kinds of religion, one of which brutally divides, and one of which unites (or can unite). How do we tell them apart, and how might we begin to switch allegiance from the former to the latter?
  • In my previous column I didn't spell out, or really indicate what an "integral approach" to spirituality would include. Many readers naturally assumed that this was simply another version of "universalism" — the belief that there are certain truths contained in all the world's religions. But the integral approach emphatically does not make that suggestion. Other readers maintained that I was offering a version of the "perennial philosophy" espoused by Aldous Huxley or Huston Smith. Does the integral approach believe that all religions are saying essentially the same thing from a different perspective? No, almost the opposite.
    Yet the integral approach does claim to be able to "unite," in some sense, the world's great spiritual traditions, which is what has caused much of the interest in this approach. If humanity is ever to cease its swarming hostilities and be united in one family, without squashing the significant and important differences among us, then something like an integral approach seems the only way. Until that time, religions will continue to brutally divide humanity, as they have throughout history, and not unite, as they must if they are to be a help, not a hindrance, to tomorrow's existence.
  • If you are talking to me about your new car, you are the first person, I am the second person, and the car is the third person.
    These pronouns actually represent three perspectives that human beings can take when they talk about the world or attempt to know the world... The fascinating part is that these three perspectives might actually give rise to art, morals, and science. Or the Beautiful, the Good, and the True: the Beauty that is in the eye (or the "I") of the beholder; the Good or moral actions that can exist between you and me as a "we"; and the objective Truth about third-person objects (or "its") that you and I might discover: hence, art ("I"), morals ("we"), and science ("it").

Which Level of God Do You Believe In?

"Which Level of God Do You Believe In?" (Beliefnet Essay 3)
There are several different meanings of the words "religion" and "spirituality," all of which are important...
  • I began my previous Beliefnet column with the line, "Throughout history, religion has been the single greatest source of human-caused wars, suffering, and misery. In the name of God, more suffering has been inflicted than by any other manmade cause." I was, of course, using the word "religion" in its sociological meaning, as any belief invested with "ultimate concern," in which case not only Islam, Christianity, and Shintoism are religions, but Marxism, Nazism, and Eco-terrorism are all versions of religions or religiously held beliefs. Seen as such, the opening sentence is obviously true.
  • There are several different meanings of the words "religion" and "spirituality," all of which are important. The whole point about an integral or comprehensive approach is that it must find a way to believably include all of those important meanings in a coherent whole.
Human beings undergo psychological development. At each level or stage of development, they will see the world in a different way...
  • Human beings undergo psychological development. At each level or stage of development, they will see the world in a different way. Hence, each level of development has, as it were, a different religious belief or worldview. This does not make God or Spirit the result of human development; it does, however, make the ways in which humans conceive of God or Spirit the result of development. And this is where it gets really interesting.
The lower stages are more fundamental and the higher stages are more significant, but leave out any one of them and you're in trouble...
  • Put bluntly, there is an archaic God, a magic God, a mythic God, a mental God, and an integral God. Which God do you believe in?
    An archaic God sees divinity in any strong instinctual force. A magic God locates divine power in the human ego and its magical capacity to change the animistic world with rituals and spells. A mythic God is located not on this earth but in a heavenly paradise not of this world, entrance to which is gained by living according to the covenants and rules given by this God to his peoples. A mental God is a rational God, a demythologized Ground of Being that underlies all forms of existence. And an integral God is one that embraces all of the above.
    Which of those Gods is the most important? According to an integral view, all of them, because each "higher" stage actually builds upon and includes the lower, so the lower stages are more fundamental and the higher stages are more significant, but leave out any one of them and you're in trouble. You are, that is, less than integral, less than comprehensive, less than inclusive in your understanding of God.

Integral Spirituality in Real Life

"Integral Spirituality in Real Life" (Beliefnet Essay 4)
  • I am in the awkward situation of writing a foreword to a book by a gay person. This is an awkward situation not because Joe Perez is gay, but because I have to point it out. I feel the same damn irritation as having to refer to, say, Edmund White as a "gay writer." Nobody has to point out that I am heterosexual, although now I hear that I am not a heterosexual but a metrosexual, although, in fact, I have never had sex with a metro in my life. But I'm sure it is a wonderful experience.
  • The occasional trip into realms labeled madness — can mean, especially if you are a writer, that you are given to telling the unvarnished, brutal, searing truth, whether society likes it or not. And not the Sylvia Plath look-at-me kinds of truth, but the spiritual-seer and mad-shaman types of truth, the truths that really hurt, the truths that get into society's craw and stick there, causing festering metaphysical sores indicative of social cancers or worse — but also the types of truth that speak to you deeply, authentically, radiantly, if you have the courage to listen.
  • What often happens if you study this integral map is that it begins to make room in your psyche, in your being, in your soul, for all the parts of you that were disowned, whether by society, your parents, your peers, whomever. An integral approach even makes room for those who did the disowning to you.
  • An integral approach acknowledges that all views have a degree of truth, but some views are more true than others, more evolved, more developed, more adequate. And so let's get that part out of the way right now: homophobia in any form, as far as I can tell, stems from a lower level of human development — but it is a level, it exists, and one has to make room in one's awareness for those lower levels as well, just as one has to include third grade in any school curriculum. Just don't, you know, put those people in charge of anything important.

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