Reflections on Ken Wilber's The Religion of Tomorrow
(2017) - Parts
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
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Dr. Joseph Dillard is a psychotherapist with over forty year's clinical experience treating individual, couple, and family issues. Dr. Dillard also has extensive experience with pain management and meditation training. The creator of Integral Deep Listening (IDL), Dr. Dillard is the author of over ten books on IDL, dreaming, nightmares, and meditation. He lives in Berlin, Germany. See: integraldeeplistening.com
A Summary of
With the election of Trump, the integral community has received a huge wake-up call. Based on integral forum discussions and the content of Wilber’s Trump and a Post-Truth World: An Evolutionary Self-Correction (Feb. 2017), and Robb Smith’s The Great Divide, (Mar, 2017), I have had some fear that Integral is in danger of missing the opportunity this “legitimation crisis” presents.
“Healing Integral” was written to help those of us who care about AQAL and its future re-think our premises so that integral might seize these opportunities in order to grow into the degree of popular acceptance it deserves and that the world needs.
It was also written in reaction to the spectacle of so many integralists supporting and voting for Hillary Clinton, a neoliberal who professed late personal values of pluralism and egalitarianism, but in practice has supported and carried out policies that most neoliberals could support and a good many, some inside Obama’s government, like Victoria Nuland, have. Clinton was instrumental in the prosecution of several extra-legal American wars, in violation of Nuremburg, the Geneva Convention, principles of the United Nations and the US Constitution.
This behavior is explained by Wilber in Trump and a Post-Truth World: An Evolutionary Self-Correction (Feb. 2017), as an expression of the “mean green meme,” the “shadow” side of late personal level of development.
Nietzsche meant it specifically for the type of nasty, angry, and meanspirited attitude that tends to go with “egalitarian” beliefs (because in reality, there are almost always “greater” and “lesser” realitiesnot everything is or can be merely “equal,” and green resents this mightily, and often responds with a nasty and vindictive attitude, which Integral theorists call “the mean green meme”).
This has led to a “legitimation crisis,” first among ethnocentrists:
But the notion of “ressentiment” applies in general to the resentment that began to increasingly stem from the severe legitimation crisis that began to soak the culture (which itself was, indeed, due primarily to a broken green). Everywhere you are told that you are fully equal and deserve immediate and complete empowerment, yet everywhere denied the means to actually achieve it. You suffocate, you react, and you get very, very mad. (p. 29)
The problem very quickly became what Integral Metatheory calls a “legitimation crisis,” which it defines as a mismatch between LowerLeft (or cultural) beliefs and the LowerRight systems (or actual background realities, such as the technoeconomic base). The cultural belief was that everybody is created equal, that all people have a perfect and equal right to full personal empowerment, that nobody is intrinsically superior to others (beliefs that flourished with green). Yet the overwhelming reality was increasingly one of a stark and rapidly growing unequalityin terms of income and overall worth, property ownership, employment opportunity, healthcare access, life satisfaction issues. The culture was constantly telling us one thing, and the realities of society were consistently failing to deliver itthe culture was lying. This was a deep and serious legitimation crisisa culture that is lying to its members simply cannot move forward for long. (p.22)
However, this “legitimation crisis has also impacted progressives and the integral community itself:
Never had an “anti” stance reached out and energized so many stagesbecause never before had the leading edge so blatantly failed to lead. And the overall metadrive in all of this is to find a way that all of these previous stages can actually be heard, and truly seen, and more effectively and compassionately integrated into the larger currents of a cultural evolution in a way that green (with its aggressively deconstructive aperspectival madness) has profoundly failed to do. (pp. 41-2)
Robb Smith, in "The Great Divide, Trump, Populism and the Rise of a Post-Scarcity World" (Mar, 2017), produces a similar diagnosis and prescription. Integralists need to do a better job at explaining their broader, more inclusive, world-centric world view to show ethnocentric “tribalists” that their worries about unemployment and poverty are taken seriously and to provide them with a path to a globalist perspective:
Their sense of self is not yet as expansive as that which it is being asked to submit to. Without the broader cognition and skills that produce the worldcentric self-authorship of the globalist, tribalists often don’t feel at home in a complex, multicultural world…(p. 11)
It’s worth noting that globalists are not helping their own case. What insults those who might otherwise give integration and pluralism a chance is the shadowy underbelly of universal values themselves: a squeamish, anti-discerning sensitivity that through political correctness and thought policing makes it almost impossible to make a valid judgment without looking over one's shoulder for the identity brigade. This is the shadow of global multiculturalism…(p. 11)
Such explanations and solutions are built on elevationistic assumptions that “green,” and “globalist” world views are superior to those of ethnocentrists; the problem is how to get ethnocentrists to grasp a worldcentric world view that is in their own best interest.
This is such thin soup that it is difficult to take it seriously.
This is such thin soup that it is difficult to take it seriously. Do the co-heads of Integral Life really believe that the frightened, desperate and deeply indebted 90% of the US population is going to respond to integral compassion, as a consequence, magically evolve? Integral has its own legitimation crisis; it has lost touch with the reality not only of the majority of Americans, but of the vast majority of humans. How could it have happened and what can be done about it?
Healing Integral identifies and examines four core factors that it believes help explain what has led integral into its current “legitimation crisis:”
- Integral is elevationistic and elitist and therefore drives away a lot of its potential audience;
- Integral focuses too much on consciousness (the intentional quadrant) and not enough on loving and supporting our fellow man by addressing social injustices and fighting for human rights (the social quadrant);
- Integral is in too many ways self-centered instead of life-centered;
- Integral regularly uses key "signal" words that are warm and fuzzy, that attract people and build a sense of connection, while acting as sedatives, keeping people asleep, dreaming and sleepwalking in scripted, comfortable and familiar misconceptions.
“Elevationistic,” indicates that integral leads people to assume that because they understand, accept and agree with AQAL, that they are therefore at a much higher level of development than they actually are. Our level of development is most accurately determined not by the normally leading line of cognition, but by important lagging lines, which, to no surprise, are generally the lines of morality and empathy. Everyone in integral, starting with Wilber, needs to reassess their development in terms of their most lagging, fixated major developmental line(s) and then go up a level to find their genuine, authentic level of development.
“Prejudicing the quadrant of consciousness” refers to the perception that Wilber essentially follows in the tradition of the great mystics of the world by implying that individual transformations in consciousness are much more powerful and effective at changing not only culture and society, but the quality of individual lives, than they actually are. The solution is for integral, starting with Wilber, to place a much stronger emphasis on the external and collective quadrants, in particular on transformational social activism.
“Overly emphasizing the perspective of the self at the expense of multi-perspectivalism,” refers to “psychological geocentrism” and its Vedanta-related offspring, “psychological heliocentrism,” in which a personal self is replaced with an immortal Self that is one with all while remaining the center of reality. Healing Integral recommends a yoga of radical multi-perspectivalism that is designed to break down fundamental perceptual dualisms that feed the delusion of self as real and the arbiter of experience. These dualities include self vs. other, reality vs. fantasy, objective vs. subjective, good vs. bad, secure vs. dangerous, comfortable vs. stress-inducing, life vs death, good vs. evil, loving/compassion vs. selfish, conscience vs. immorality, heaven vs. earth, divine vs. profane, sacred vs. secular, God vs. self, divine will vs. sin, freedom vs. bondage, ultimate truth and conventional truth, and clarity vs. delusion. While these oppositions have functionality in the world, they stand in the way of transpersonal development because they maintain the myth of the self. Radical multi-perspectivalism is a methodology that can be practiced by both children and adults at almost all levels of development.
Language is the fourth issue for several reasons. It is impossible for AQAL to authentically present itself as “post-metaphysical” if it insists on keeping thoroughly metaphysical core language. It’s either one or the other. Several core words, “enlightenment, “spirit” and “spiritual,” and “God,” with all its synonyms, have so many meanings that they cannot be used without much more definition than integral usually brings to them. The result is a warm and fuzzy ambiguity that speaks to more people, but from a prepersonal space, not a mid-personal space of clarity. Without such mid-personal clarity, language can only posture as being transpersonal; it stays anchored at pre-mid-personal levels of discourse. The section on language also addresses unnecessary difficulties created by Wilber’s current version of his Spiral Dynamics-derived color scheme.
Because of its length and because the first two points are more polemical while the last two are more clinical, the book has been divided into two parts. Healing Integral, Part 1: Toward a Global Re-Alignment, which addresses the first two points, and Healing Integral, Part 2: Transformations for the Future, which deals with the second two. Both are available as pay-what-you-want PDF downloads here, as well as a paperback, here for Part 1 and here for Part 2, or on Amazon.