Monday, April 5, 2010

Is Ken Wilber Really A Finite Player? (or just in drag)

Extracts from “Integral Life’s” presentation of a portion of Ken Wilber’s “Eye of Spirit”
"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 Great Search simply reinforces the mistaken assumption that there is some' place that Spirit is not…But there is no space lacking, and there is no space more full. There is only Spirit."
Yep, it’s an infinite game “in all directions.” There’s nowhere you need go…nobody you need be…nothing need be done. Yet, beyond that, you have a lot to do. But what you do is done infinitely and so there are NO rules to how that game is played, but it MUST be played and no one plays alone.
"You are somehow looking right at the answer. One hundred percent of Spirit is in your perception right now. Not 20 percent, not 50 percent, not 99 percent, but literally 100 percent of Spirit is in your awareness right now—and the trick, as it were, is to recognize this ever-present state of affairs, and not to engineer a future state in which Spirit will announce itself. And this simple recognition of an already present Spirit is the task, as it were, of the great Nondual traditions."
Ahaa! There’s the operative concept…”task.” Make no mistake, whenever you come in contact with terms like this, you can be sure “rules” are about to be presented.What's interesting, however, is that the "task" involves no one but you, even though "engineering" the future has always been a joint venture. Did you think that your experience of a 'world' was constructed entirely alone?
"Many people have stern objections to "mysticism" or "transcendentalism" of any sort, because they think it somehow denies this world, or hates this earth, or despises the body…sages universally maintain that absolute reality and the relative world are "not-two" (which is the meaning of "nondual"), much as a mirror and its reflections are not separate, or an ocean is one with its many waves. So the "other world" of Spirit and "this world" of separate phenomena are deeply and profoundly "not-two," and this nonduality is a direct and immediate realization which occurs in certain meditative states—in other words, seen with the eye of contemplation—although it then becomes a very simple, very ordinary perception, whether you are meditating or not."
The non-duality concept is a modern interpretation of ancient wisdom teachings. Unfortunately, the “not-two” concept negates multiplicity for some ‘higher’ experience of singularity. “Non-dual” actually points to an absence of conflict in duality, thereby, creating an infinite equality between multiple realities or experiences.

Non-duality does not require that our individuality be dissolved or negated. Rather it simply points to an absence of opposition or competition between experiences. It's all relevant to the infinite game.

Your individuality is not opposed to mine nor mine yours and, indeed, the lion lies down with the lamb. This is often referred to as Christ Consciousness, because it deeply and fully engages a world of others in order to dissolve fear completely and experience the absence of all opposition and conflict. The non-dual experience is nothing more than an experience of absolute equality with the world and others. This is because it’s not the world that you fear, but those who participate in the construct of your experience as you participate with them.

Yet, Ken Wilber, the founder of “Integral Theory,” claims that “…this nonduality is a direct and immediate realization which occurs in CERTAIN meditative states…” Therefore, the game is finite and require rules leading to the reward of a certain “realization" and only CERTAIN individuals can win. Certain individuals can never win an infinite game, because an infinite game has no outcome through which to declare a winner.
"Every single thing you perceive is the radiance of Spirit itself, so much so that Spirit is not seen apart from that thing: the robin sings, and just that is it, nothing else. This becomes your constant realization, through all changes of state, very naturally, just so. And this releases you from the basic insanity of hiding from the Real."
Of course, spirit is apart, but it is also ONE. Spirit inhabits and plays any game it chooses.Yet, Spirit engages without opposition and this is the infinite game. Unfortunately, Wilber’s grand opus “Integral Theory” requires complex rules which include (and transcend) various levels, degrees, states, lines, etc, in order for the coveted reward to be achieved. Rewards denote finite conclusions and finite conclusions demand a series of rules (or “map”) to get there.
"But why is it, then, that we ordinarily don't have that perception?"
Now we must begin to define the winners and losers of this game and we are restricted to the parameters of a finite game, demanding specific conclusions to represent achieved rewards that can be ‘perceived.’ Ken Wilber will begin setting the rules, since he is a ‘winner’ of this game, and the first rule of this game is “non-dual meditation.” He has played by those rules, which have been devised by other "ancient" winners, and he expects you will concur.

Whenever you approach a conclusion…best to go the other way.
"In nondual meditation or contemplation, the agitation of the separate-self sense profoundly relaxes, and the self uncoils in the vast expanse of all space. At that point, it becomes obvious that you are not "in here" looking at the world "out there," because that duality has simply collapsed into pure Presence and spontaneous luminosity."
There is no collapsing of experiences. Multiplicity doesn’t magically disappear. It merely no longer opposes or competes.
"This realization may take many forms. A simple one is something like this: You might be looking at a mountain, and you have relaxed into the effortlessness of your own present awareness, and then suddenly the mountain is all, you are nothing. Your separate-self sense is suddenly and totally gone, and there is simply everything that is arising moment to moment. You are perfectly aware, perfectly conscious, everything seems completely normal, except you are nowhere to be found. You are not on this side of your face looking at the mountain out there; you simply are the mountain, you are the sky, you are the clouds, you are everything that is arising moment to moment, very simply, very clearly, just so."
This experience is not of merging with the mountains and you do not become the clouds or the sky, but you no longer feel in any way inferior, unequal or disengaged from your experience of a world. You and the world have no opposing tendencies or competing aspects. There is always difference, since Spirit manifests in many ways, yet all manifestations of Spirit are equal, non-opposing and joined (although egocentricity demands competition between levels as "reality"). Unfortunately for KW, his path is merely more of the same egocentricity believing it must become what it perceives in order to transcend or be free of itself and this alone results in what Wilber calls “the Great Search.”
"William Blake said that "a fool who persists in his folly will become wise." So nondual meditation simply speeds up the folly. If you really think you lack Spirit, then try this folly: try to become Spirit, try to discover Spirit, try to contact Spirit, try to reach Spirit: meditate and meditate and meditate in order to get Spirit!"
Now we have the rules of this game and the conclusive evidence of your winning is “realization of spirit.” Keep in mind that the chief rule of this game is that you cannot be enlightened in order to play the game of enlightenment. But notice Wilber’s ruse in asserting rules, while still denying rules are necessary, “If you really think you lack Spirit, then try this folly…meditate and meditate and meditate.” Ken is a master at the game of spiritual persuasion.
"It's not that these nondual traditions deny higher states; they don't. They have many, many practices that help individuals reach specific states of postformal consciousness…The real aim is the stateless, not a perpetual fascination with changes of state. And that stateless condition is the true nature of this and every conceivable state of consciousness, so any state you have will do just fine. Change of state is not the ultimate point; recognizing the Changeless is the point, recognizing primordial Emptiness is the point, recognizing unqualifiable Godhead is the point, recognizing pure Spirit is the point, and if you are breathing and vaguely awake, that state of consciousness will do just fine."
You could experience higher or altered states of consciousness by dropping some good acid. Therefore, such states can only be stepping stones signifying status (even though you’ve done it ‘naturally’) along the way to the ultimate reward of “recognizing the Changeless is the point.” So, of course, “higher states” cannot be the reward or outcome you must ultimately seek as reward for playing. The "changeless" is what you seek and non-dual meditation is the rule you must follow. One wonders is there another way for the harried mother of four, the overworked truck driver, the chronically ill, the intellectually impaired? How about the postman or the grocery store clerk…we can’t expect these folks to follow such austere rules? As we will see, Ken Wilber's 'truth' must leave some behind.

Spirit desires engagement with your world to be known and no parts are excluded.
"Nonetheless, traditionally, in order to demonstrate your sincerity, you must complete a good number of preliminary practices, including a mastery of various states of meditative consciousness, summating in a stable post-postconventional adaptation, all of which is well and good….Rather, it is precisely by entering and leaving these various meditative states that you begin to understand that none of them constitute enlightenment. All of them have a beginning in time, and thus none of them are the timeless. The point is to realize that change of state is not the point, and that realization can occur in any state of consciousness whatsoever."
"Demonstrate sincerity"? Wilber then presents a series of sincere “preliminary practices” to be performed individually with no involvement with others or the world. In the final page of this essay KW then reverts to delineating numerous Hindu-Buddhist states of consciousness that could be experienced as you press ever onward toward the ultimate reward of the game (note that these are rewards too, just 'preliminary' rewards and not the big kahuna). Ken’s an excellent writer of the new age genre and he will certainly dazzle you with his luminous terminology. But, of course, that’s the point, since how else will he persuade you to follow his rules of “enlightenment” and join in his game. You are told that his interpretation is based on centuries of ancient wisdom, because he knows you will think, “how can that be wrong." But what if his interpretation is wrong?
"It is simply that, as embodied being, you also arise in the world of form that is your own manifestation. And the intrinsic potentials of the enlightened mind (the intrinsic potentials of your ever-present awareness)—such as equanimity, discriminating wisdom, mirrorlike wisdom, ground consciousness, and all-accomplishing awareness—various of these potentials combine with the native dispositions and particular talents of your own individual bodymind."
Whoops! I’ll bet you thought you’d finally be free of the body and become One with everything. Well, not exactly. However, you will now attach to the egocentric aspects such as “equanimity,” “discriminating wisdom,” “all-accomplishing awareness,” etc, etc. You get the Ph.D in egocentricity (ego assuming it's no longer ego). That’s really what we want and Ken gives it to us. Rewards, baby! Get me to the end product. Just gimme the game plan and let me run a touchdown. Unfortunately, what Ken fails to realize, in his “discriminating wisdom,” is that this game never ends. But then you can’t sell books, DVD’s and week long seminars on Maui without a reward, since who’d buy your rulebook if the were no reason to follow the rules?
"We do this gently, randomly, and spontaneously, through the day and into the night. Soon enough, through all three states of waking, dreaming, and sleeping, this recognition will grow of its own accord and by its own intrinsic power, outshining the obstacles that pretend to hide its nature…"
Forget that others count on your being there. Forget that the world counts on your full engagement in order to change the world. The world is nothing more than an “obstacle,” hiding your “true nature,” that you must “outshine” and so you disengage and the 'higher consciousness ' resulting from any  loving depth or intimacy, experienced with those that make up your world experience (that which changes the world), must wait while you “meditate and meditate and meditate.”
"And somewhere on a cold crystal night the moon will shine on a silently waiting Earth, just to remind those left behind that it is all a game."
What??? “those left behind”? Truth leaves some behind? What kinda truth is that?

Ah yes, Ken realizes this is all just a game. Problem is, for him,it's a finite game and there is a reward. He must convince you that he’s achieved it and he does so by teaching you HOW you too, can be a winner (which reinforces his win). But achievement is limited in his “awakening” game to a select few willing to make the 'sincere' sacrifices necessary to achieve what Ken has achieved. The rest are simply “left behind.”

Problem is…if Truth doesn’t conform to Ken’s rules…we might all get left behind.

Awakening is very simple:
Fully engage the people who populate your experience of a world, because it is your fear of them that you seek to escape. However, the Truth is…there is no escape, because WITHOUT THEM THERE IS NO "YOU." Therefore, when you transcend that fear they will still be there….but more beautifully than you could have ever imagined and you will engage with them equally.

The only rule of this infinite game is to bring on as many players as possible, because the more players, playing infinitely, the less need for rules and without rules, as even ken proclaims, we’re “nothing but spirit in all directions.”

So why does Ken Wilber teach a finite game?

Artwork by Paul N Grech - "The Green Room"


  1. Ah, leave Ken alone, he's just doing the best he can.

    Lovely, thought provoking article Mike. It seems the best way to be "enlightened" is to go about your daily business!

  2. Mike, just as the Mastercard advertisers purport, the image of Ken Wilbur in drag is nothing less than I intend to retain for emotional relief emergencies and hopefully more permanent fixes.

    TY for your continued assistance to this end,

  3. Hey Guys,

    Thanks for the kind words!

  4. So why does Ken Wilber teach a finite game?
    he's fustrated about hair nt growing on his head loool anyways epic blog Mike, you've jst ruined my so called search for enlightenment i had a good thing going and i thank you for that . loooooooool
    peace n such..