INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber



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Martin Erdmann is a German writer, poet, retired lecturer of Heidelberg University. He completed studies of English, French, and of legal science, both at the University of Heidelberg. He wrote several books in German focusing on the illusion of the I or Ego. As a cofounder of the German Spiritual Emergence Network (S. E. N) he provided counseling to people undergoing spiritual crises. For several years now he has conducted seminars on Advaita-Vedanta. (email: martin@satsa.de Homepage: www.satsa.de)

You cannot have your
transcendental cake
and eat it

A critical appraisal of Ken Wilber's
marriage of science and religion

Martin Erdmann

Abstract:

In The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion (1998), also in his earlier and later publications, Ken Wilber, for his integrating endeavours to be achieved, defines and redefines his religion according to whether he wishes it to be united with his sensory science or distinguished from it. In the end his religion is neither his spiritual science to be logically analyzed, nor is it his transcendental beyond all logic and thought. It is much rather a pie in the sky, a transcendental cake born from Wilber's own imagination. Wilber wants to have his transcendental cake undivided and whole. At the same time he wants it divided in well defined pieces, which he digests and redigests throughout his oeuvre. Ken Wilber, so the article concludes, wants to have his transcendental cake and eat it. Also in other parts of his writing, dealt with in this article, Ken Wilber builds his deliberations on pre-conceived notions that presuppose what is to be proven. The result is a circular argument, which is basically a jockeing for definitions.

Preliminary remarks

So we see a Ken Wilber again, who - in his circular line of reasoning – selects his definitions in advance to produce the results desired.

The German scientific community has, to my knowledge, not taken much notice of Wilber as yet. I found that instances of eclecticism, of syncretism were cited to disqualify Wilber as being scientifically biased. Efforts to have transpersonal psychology integrated into the academic curriculum of our universities met upon the resistance of a German scientific establishment.

I am well informed, though, that in more esoterically colored publications Wilber is hailed as “the Einstein of consciousness” lovingly called “Big Brain, a great genius of our time, the man who dares to think deeply”, for, as Wilber states himself, it is “not the forces of the dark, but the forces of the shallow which assail us” in a world where all inner values, all mind and soul is reduced to “colorless material processes, surfaces, data.”

In “The Marriage of Sense and Soul” (1998) though, also in his earlier and later publications, Wilber, I am afraid, becomes guilty of reductionism himself, reducing Religion somehow to the “flatland” world, from which he so ingeniously tries to escape. Of course, in a few pages you cannot render a well-rounded analysis of his writing; so the article does not purport to give an evaluation of Wilber's comprehensive work. It focuses on Wilber's “science and religion argument” mainly, thus presenting a more fundamental aspect of his writing only. So the approach is by its very nature limited. An overall appraisal of Wilber's work would have been more favorable.

Opening the gateway to religion

In “The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion” Wilber first defines religion as the “absolute” (1998: 168), the Self, as the innermost core of man; science for him represents the outer values, the surface of life. So in order to integrate science and religion, Wilber must unite the outer and the inner modes of life. For this he decides to first contact the interior of life.

Science, however, rejects all interior values, arguing “1...that there are no irreducible interior values...only objective Its. ..2. Even if there were other modes of knowing than the sensory-empirical, they would have no means of validation, and thus could not be taken seriously.” (1998: 143)

Now Wilber argues that “if empirical science rejects the validity of....all forms of interior...knowledge, then it rejects its own validity....which rests on interior structures....that are not delivered by the senses....(such as logic and mathematics, to name only two).” (1998: 144)

To elucidate the point Wilber makes, let us consider the following simple statement: I go to the baker's, because I want to buy 12 rye rolls. The baker's shop and the rye rolls can be found in the sensory world to be seen, to be touched. The idea of “because”, the causal link between the two statements, is present only within myself; the same applies to the figure “12”. I cannot bite into a mere figure in order to satisfy my hunger. Thus the whole realm of logic, of symbols, of mathematics can only be found within the interior domain.

Wilber adds that “most of the philosophers of science have already conceded this point. This undermines objection number 1”, (1998: 144) which negates all interior values. So Wilber in his writing is above all concerned with objection number 2, which claims that there is no way to validate interior values. Thus his primary attention is focused on proving the validity of the mental, the spiritual realms to science. “With the two major scientific objections to the interior domains undone”, Wilber seems to be convinced, “the door would be open to a genuine reconciliation of science and religion.” (1998: 144)

The sensory, the mental, and the spiritual realms

Wilber distinguishes between a “sensory, a mental, and a spiritual realm”, (1998: 25) each of which possesses its own intrinsic nature. The characteristics of each of the three domains must be sustained, Wilber tells us, so that the advantages of differentiation will not be lost. The three realms, however, must not drift apart to become alienated, dissociated. Thus Wilber wants to distinguish between the three domains, while at the same time uniting them in order to bring about an integration of science and religion, a reconciliation of the sensory and the spiritual realms. In this the mental sphere represents a connecting link, needed by Wilber to contact the interior side of life, in order to rise from there to the spiritual domain, the true realm of religion.

The ultimate goal of the undertaking is described by Wilber as bringing “science and religion together in a most intimate embrace.” (1998: 25) For this embrace to occur, the three spheres of knowledge must first be separated. To be united, they must be differentiated. This review first turns to the differentiation of the three spheres, then to their inner unity as envisaged by Wilber.

Wilber writes: “Empirical science is monological, because you can investigate, say, a rock without ever having to talk to it.” (1998: 36) The same applies to the realm of mathematical symbols; you do not have to communicate with them, in order to understand them, to apply them.

The mental sphere, on the other hand, is of a dialogical nature. We are “involved in dialogical interpretation, in hermeneutics, in symbolic meaning, in mutual understanding,” (1998: 37) which are of a dialogical nature.

“Translogical means transcending the logical, the rational....the mental.” We are concerned with the spiritual sphere, which does not disclose itself to “monological empiricism”, not to “dialogical interpretation”, but only reveals itself to “non-dual consciousness”, which has transcended the realm of all thought. (1998: 37)

Thus Wilber distinguishes between a sensory-monological, a mental-dialogical, and a spiritual-translogical sphere. He wants to divide the three spheres, while at the same time uniting them. To do this he tries to establish a science, which will reconcile the three realms, without neglecting their differences. This would be a science equally applicable to the three levels of understanding, a “science of the sensory realm....the mental realm....and the spiritual realm.” (1998: 25)

A uniform method

In order to establish a common science, a uniform method is necessary, that can be applied to the sensory, the mental and the spiritual domains. For this the “essentials” have to be established, that apply equally to the three realms of life, so that they can be assigned to our uniform method. Wilber “begins with what appears to be the essentials” of sensory science. “Having extracted these ingredients”, he writes, “the hope is that we will find them equally applicable to the interior domains, thus giving us a methodology that could legitimate the interiors with as much confidence as the exteriors. And the further hope is that, hidden somewhere in the newly legitimated interiors, awaits the awareness of a radiant God.” (1998: 155).

Wilber continues: “Here are what I believe are three of the essential aspects of scientific inquiry – what I will also call the “three strands of all valid knowing: 1....a paradigm” leading to “2...data” that require “3. communal confirmation (or rejection)....a checking of the results” (1998: 156) For reasons of clarity I confined myself to giving the essence of Wilber's statement which, as a matter of fact, is a little longer.

The paradigm

Let us first turn to item 1, which is the paradigm. In an earlier part of “The Marriage of Sense and Soul” Wilber rejected the “new paradigm” as being a well-worn concept, a “dead metaphor” (1998: 30) Now he reintroduces the same concept, in order to back up his own endeavor of integrating science and religion, which is the absolute. This, however, does not make our paradigm any clearer, I am afraid.

Wilber also introduces a number of synonymous concepts, such as “instrumental injunction, actual practice, exemplar, experiment, ordinance.” (1998: 155) He does not, however, clearly define any of these terms, which, I believe, leaves our paradigm just as vague and opaque as it was in the beginning.

Wilber does not speak of his paradigm in abstract terms only. He also gives some concrete examples which are supposed to elucidate the concept. He writes: “Where the exemplar (paradigm) in the physical sciences might be a telescope, and in the mental sciences might be linguistic interpretation, in the spiritual sciences....the paradigm....is meditation or contemplation.” (1998: 170)

Looking through a telescope, though, interpreting Shakespeare, meditating or contemplating on a mantra, are activities which do not show any real similarity. The differences do not evaporate by applying a concept broad enough to describe them all, a concept, moreover, that is nothing but a “dead metaphor”, (1998: 30) as Wilber conceded himself. Thus we may conclude that Wilber's paradigm is not capable of uniting the three realms of science.

We will now turn to item 2 (data) and item 3 (communal confirmation and refutation), first in order to see how the two aspects relate to sensory science.

Sensory science

Sensory science yields data, results that can be empirically proven. The data, the results of sensory scientific investigation, speak for themselves, because they are, as Wilber says, of a “monological” (1998: 36) nature, so that requirement 2 (data) certainly applies. Item 3, however, demands a “communal confirmation or refutation” by other people consisting in an exchange of ideas, which naturally is of a dialogical nature. Now Wilber – in order to unite the three realms of science - claims that his “falsifiability principle is operative in every domain, sensory to mental to spiritual” (1998: 159). Sensory science is of a monological nature, though, so that it cannot be of a dialogical nature. The two concepts are mutually exclusive. So sensory science, unlike mental science, does not depend on his “falsifiability principle”, it does not depend on a “communal confirmation or refutation”, as understood by Wilber. Scientific data being of a strictly monological nature speak for themselves, so that item 3, with its dialogical requirement, does not apply, as Wilber tries to make us believe.

Mental science

Let us now turn to mental science, taking literary studies as an example. The literary critic is, as Wilber stated, “involved in interpretation, in hermeneutics, in symbolic meaning, in mutual understanding,” (1998: 37) He cannot give an empirical proof for his interpretations. That is why he depends on the ideas expressed by other literary critics, who interpret his own interpretations. Thus the literary critic cannot prove his linguistic interpretation by way of data (2), as originally defined by Wilber.

Wilber introduced the concept of “data” (1998: 37), in order to qualify a science which had reduced all life to levels of size, a science that “pronounced the other value spheres to be worthless, nonscientific, illusory.” (1998: 13) This led to what Wilber calls “dissociation”, (1998: 53) to the suppression, the “alienation” (1998: 93) of inner life, to a “world with nothing but meaningless Its” or data, “roaming a one-dimensional flatland.” (1998: 56)

Now Wilber employs the concept of data in order to restore the inner values of life to their rightful place. The data, which led to dissociation, had been defined as sensory data. Mental science does not deal with sensory objects though. It has to do with inner values, to which the concept of sensory data does not apply. That is why Wilber introduces the concept of mental data.

To elucidate his point he gives an example taken from literary studies. He writes: “A bad interpretation of Hamlet is falsifiable, not by sensory data, but by further mental data, further interpretations – not monological but dialogical data – in a community of interpreters. Hamlet is not about the search for a sunken treasure buried in the Pacific. That is a bad interpretation, a false interpretation, and this falsifiability can easily be demonstrated by any community of researchers.” (1998: 160) “Hamlet is not about a fun family picnic in Yellowstone park”. “That” again is a “bad interpretation, and it can be thoroughly rejected by any community of adequate interpeters.” (1998: 34)

Also “Hamlet is not about the joys of war.” This is another “bad interpretation, it is wrong and it can”, so Wilber states more explicitly now, “be thoroughly rejected by the community of those who:

  1. perform the paradigm, the injunction or the experiment (namely, read the play called Hamlet);
  2. gather the interpretative data…(study the meaning of the play…); and
  3. compare this data with others who have completed the experiment” (1997: 18), that is have read Hamlet, in order to fruitfully engage in a “communal confirmation or rejection....a checking of the results” (1998: 156) of their hermeneutics, their respective linguistic interpretations.

What Wilber seems to ignore is this: A critic of Hamlet will not be concerned with rejecting a statement saying that Hamlet is “about the joys of war, about a sunken treasure, a fun family picnic in Yellowstone Park”, for the simple reason that no man in his senses, who has read Hamlet, will make such a statement in the first place; even if - for some unknown reason – he should make such a preposterous claim, it does not take a literary critic to reject his statement. A computer, with Hamlet in its files, will do. Just insert the doubtful word, press the “search button” and, in a second, the answer will be there on the screen for everyone to see: “joys of war not found, family picnic not found, Yellowstone Park not found, sunken treasure not found.“

The sunken treasure, the flowers of Yellowstone Park, the cheese and butter of the family picnic are sensory data to be seen, to be touched, to be smelled. They are not objects of literary criticism, which have to do with questions of hermeneutics and interpretation, with mental data that can not be seen or touched. By implying that the literary critic, who deals with mental data, is concerned with questions pertaining to Yellowstone Park, family picnic, sunken treasure, Wilber inadvertently assigns to his mental data a sensory content.

Science maintains that hermeneutics and interpretation, pertaining to Wilber's mental data, “have no means of validation and thus could not be taken seriously.” (1998: 143) Now Wilber tries to demonstrate that science must take his mental data seriously, and he does so by implying that his mental data have a sensory content, that can be confirmed or rejected by a method of verification, which is applied by sensory science itself. Put differently, Wilber says to the scientist, what you are doing, mental science is doing also. So you must accept these mental data just like you approve of your own sensory data.

So he first defines his data as sensory data to qualify a science, which had reduced all inner values to levels of size, measurements. Then he introduces the concept of mental data, the data of interior perception, in order to restore the inner values of life to their rightful place. Next he assigns to his mental data a sensory content to prove their validity to sensory science. So, I am afraid, he is right back in the “flatland” from which he tried to escape.

You cannot have your inner perception and at the same time prove it to a science that does not acknowledge it. It is either one or the other. Wilber wants to have both. Thus his undertaking, in my view of the matter, is basically contradictory.

Mental science has to do with interpretations that have to be interpreted; thus it is of a highly dialogical nature. Hence item 3, which requires a “checking of the results”, definitely applies. Sensory science is of a monological nature though. Wilber wants to have it dialogical so that sensory science will suit mental science, which is of a dialogical nature. So he bases sensory science on a “falsifiabilty principle” that does not apply.

Mental science has to do with mental, with inner perception. Sensory science deals with sensory, with outer perception. So Wilber assigns to mental science a sensory content to suit his sensory science. So mental science becomes reduced to sensory science, a sensory science, moreover, that does not exist, because its results are not based on scientific laws that speak for themselves. They much rather rely on “confirmation and rejection”, on mutual understanding and dialogue. Thus Wilber reduces mental science to a fiction of sensory science, a product of his own imagination.

So we see a Ken Wilber, who defines and redefines his concepts of sensory and mental data according to whether he tries to distinguish or unite mental and sensory science. Thus he selects his definitions in advance to produce the conclusions desired.

Wilber's mathematics based on a majority decision

This is also shown by Wilber`s definition of mathematics qualified as a “mental science” (1998: 153/154). Mental science is based on dialogue, so Wilber tries to show that mathematics has to do with mutual understanding also. He writes: “In mathematical proofs....we see if the patterns connect. We then check our ”results with others, who have run the same....experiment, in order to see if they experienced the same result. If the majority of people, who are qualified report the same results, we....call this a mathematical proof, and we consider it a case of genuine knowledge.” (1998: 154)

This is definitely not right. Mathematics is not based on a majority decision. 2 x 3 = 3 + 3 = 6, minus x minus = plus, the sum of angles in a triangle is 180 degrees. These are logical patterns, consistent structures that are not the result of a majority decision. They are inherent in the nature of mathematics itself. The mathematician, the individual subject, does not vote on what is right or what is wrong, because it has already been decided on by mathematics itself. Thus mathematics, which speaks for itself, is not based on “communal confirmation and refutation”. That is why item 3 (communal confirmation or refutation) does not apply to mathematics.

Wilber introduced the concept of a mental science, which relates to the exploration of inner values, thus adding a new definition to the English language. This would logically lead to a renaming of the various fields of mental science, which would change cultural and religious studies to cultural and religious science, literary studies to literary science respectively. Literary science has to do with interpretation, with hermeneutics. Sensory science, however, does not believe in hermeneutics, so it does not believe in literary science either. The label has been changed, the content remains the same, and science will not be duped by this. A mere change of linguistic concepts, I am afraid, will not deceive science into believing that the validity of inner values has now been empirically verified.

Mental science and the German “Geisteswissenschaften”

The “Geisteswissenschaften” of my native German tongue has to do with hermeneutics as compared to the “Naturwissenschaften”, which deals with Wilber's sensory data. The two spheres of “Wissenschaft”, however, also share a common ground, which is covered by what might be called the “rules of coherent reasoning” that are to be observed. Thus the picture of two overlapping circles presents itself to the mind, with a common field of logical reasoning as a middle section, opening into two disparate spheres of hermeneutics and sensory data on the left and right sides.

Now American literary studies have undoubtedly contributed to the German comparative “Literaturwissenschaft”. Moreover, the German “Religionswissenschaft” owes a great deal to American religious studies, e.g. in its exploration of new religious groups or sects, which have emerged as a result of the New Age movement. This means what is termed studies in the USA is in no way inferior to what is called “Geistes-wissenschaften” in Germany. From this we see that there is no need to introduce to the English language the concept of a “mental science” in the manner of the German “Geistes-wissenschaft”. It does not add any new sense and meaning to the idea of US “studies” that – for many centuries now - have been successfully engaged in the exploration of inner life.

Now Wilber's “mental science” does not even correspond to the German “Geisteswissenschaft”, which is concerned not with outer but with interior perception. Wilber's newly defined mental science, however, does not deal with mental, with inner values, as these are not recognized by sensory science. It has been reduced to “non-mental”, to outer values, to sunken treasure, to picnic, to Yellowstone Park. Thus it seems to be an unnecessary concept that, moreover, is a contradiction in terms.

I also understand there are the human and social sciences of the English language. The concept of our “Geisteswissenschaften” is somewhat wider, but there is no need to go into linguistic subtleties. Let me just state that these inner values are taken care of by the subject of humanities, which means that they are not totally neglected. So the whole world does not look that dreary, does not look that “flatlandish” as Wilber tries to make it appear.

Spiritual science

Let us now turn to the concept of spiritual science, also defined by Wilber as broad or deep science, to see whether it is more coherent, more consistent on its own terms.

Spiritual science, according to Wilber, is concerned with true religion, that is, a “direct apprehension of Spirit, Emptiness....the Absolute” (1998: 168), of Mysticism, the Great Void, as the Buddhists call it. Wilber also speaks of “transcendental consciousness”, (1998: 167) which is of a “translogical....nondual” (1998: 37) nature, because it transcends all thought.

Now sensory science will not take any phenomenon seriously that has not been verified, according to the “three strands of knowledge”. (1998: 156) So for the experience of Emptiness to be valid in the eyes of science, Wilber believes the above-mentioned three requirements must be fulfilled; so there must be a paradigm (a) leading to data (b) that are confirmed or rejected (c) “by a community of those who have completed” the same injunctive practice. (1998: 172)

To exemplify what is meant by paradigm, Wilber mentions among other spiritual practices, “contemplative prayer....yoga”, (1998: 168) “meditation”, (1998: 203) “zazen” (1998: 172). It has already been stated that a spiritual practice, like meditating on a mantra, does not have anything in common with a paradigm of sensory science, like looking through a “telescope” (1998: 170) to detect some distant galaxy. Thus the concept of paradigm does not serve to unite spiritual and sensory science.

The spiritual practice, if it bears fruit, will lead to “kensho or satori” (1998: 172), to the experience of Emptiness. These are, according to Wilber, the “data” of spiritual science, now defined as “transcendental data” (1998: 73). Data have a mental content, however subtle this content may be. The transcendental data, though, are devoid of all content, because they stand for Emptiness, for the Great Void, which, to use Wilber's own words, is “transverbal; it is not of the mind but of no-mind;…is…a contemplative flash of truth in the soul”, which “cannot be…verbally passed on.” (1995: 320)

So there is nothing in the world that this data could possibly relate to. Thus the concept of transcendental data is a contradiction in terms. They are data that do not exist, so they cannot be integrated with the data of sensory science that do exist. Thus strand 2 is not capable of uniting spiritual and sensory science either.

Now Wilber says “If we do not take up the injunctive practice, we will not have a genuine paradigm, and therefore we will never see the data of the spiritual domain.” (1998: 170) There are, however, these people who have not engaged in any spiritual practice and still have the experience of satori, and spontaneously so, in, as Wilber called it, “a contemplative flash of truth in the soul” (1995: 320). It can happen when plucking flowers, washing dishes or driving a car. Ramana Maharshi, for example, seems to be a case of spontaneous enlightenment. Others engage in their spiritual practices for years without having a single satori. So the paradigm of meditation is not a necessary prerequisite for the experience of emptiness to occur.

For the results of a scientific experiment to be valid, they must be repeatable. So Wilber says that the experience of “satori”, as a result of “meditation or contemplation”, is “repeatable” (1998: 170) also. This does not hold true, I am afraid. Each time you heat up water to 100 degrees centigrade it will evaporate; but each time you practice your meditation, your ego will not evaporate for satori, the “contemplative flash of truth” to occur. It might happen twice, three times in a row, then not again for another five years, six years, who knows for how long. Something else must come in for “satori....to flash forth into ....awareness.” (1998: 172) Christians call it grace; but science does not want to have anything to do with grace.

Now Wilber tells us that his “transcendental data” have to be “checked (confirmed or rejected) by a community of those who have completed the injunctive....strands”. (1998: 172) The transcendental data, however, do not exist as such, so there is nothing to be confirmed or rejected. A confirmation has a mental content, depends on thoughts, phrases, words that are uttered. Transcendental consciousness, however, is beyond words, is pure Emptiness devoid of all thought. It is “transverbal, is of “no-mind”, thus cannot be verbally passed on” (1995: 320), as Wilber stated himself. Thus it cannot be “confirmed or rejected…by a community of those who have completed the same injunctive practice.” (1998: 172)

The experience of Emptiness, rightly considered, is self-evident. A doubt cannot possibly arise, because all doubt is a thought of doubt, and no thought arises to overshadow the Great Void. As there is no doubt, there is no need of confirmation. Words do not add anything to the ultimate experience, nor do they take anything away from it.

The Buddha, it is said, had the experience of Nirvana, the Great Void, secluded from all mankind. So there was no one to confirm it. When Ramana Maharshi became awakened, his mother, the people in his vicinity believed that he had fallen prey to a great illusion. Ramana did not hear them, retired to a distant cave, later to become one of the world's greatest spiritual leaders. In the various religious groups on this planet there has always been one to be the first to make the experience of Emptiness. If his experience needed confirmation, there would have to be a first before the first to experience the Absolute, so that there could never be the real first person to pass his message on to mankind. If the experience of the Deity had to be confirmed by another person, it would take someone to confirm the other person's experience. So there would be doubt confirmed by doubt, endlessly, mankind going round in a circle, from darkness to darkness with no light to come, no escape, no hope of salvation.

Wilber first defines religion as the experience of the translogical Spirit, of Emptiness, of the Absolute, of Mysticism in order to distinguish his spiritual science from sensory science. Then, in order to unite spiritual and sensory science, Emptiness is filled with the concept of a paradigm as a necessary prerequisite for Wilber's data, that are verifiable, repeatable, to be confirmed or rejected, as a basis for mutual understanding, interpretation and dialogue. Thus the translogical becomes the logical, the Absolute becomes the relative, becomes redefined to suit the method of sensory science. So there is not much left of the unknown, the unknowable, the mystery not to be grasped – is there? Everything now is repeatable, predictable, with boundaries clearly defined. Is this not Spirit reduced to the flatland, from which Wilber tried to escape? Is this not Wilber's sensory science dressed up in a spiritual disguise?

Ken Wilber, though, contemplating on the outcome of his undertaking writes that the three spheres of science can now “be genuinely united....and integrated under the auspices of a deep science that is as operative in profound mystical experience as in geology, as applicable....in hermeneutics as in physics. None of these domains needs to be reduced to the others, tortured....twisted....to fit some integrative scheme. Each domain, just as it is, is allowed its own dignity, its own logic – yet each....is united by the thread of direct....evidence....that grounds all knowledge....in verifiabilty.” (1998: 177)

Yes, in the end Ken Wilber is firmly convinced that the disparate patches of his thought have been mended together by himself. So he sees a “Kosmos” that “hangs together”, ultimately, “unified as a uni-verse, as one song.” (1966: 24) “And the further hope is”, Wilber writes, “that, hidden somewhere in those newly legitimated interiors, awaits the awareness of a radiant God.” (1998: 155).

You cannot unite Emptiness with science

Wilber, in a post-metaphysical age, engages in a metaphysical project establishing a spiritual science, qualified as broad or deep science, in order to validate Emptiness, the Divine in the eyes of his sensory science. A bald enterprise that is, which, however, has been doomed to failure from its very beginning. This is a point that has been raised by German social scientist Hans-Willi Weis, who concludes in the German “Transpersonale Psychologie und Psychotherapie”, that there is no way to prove to science the existence of God, of the Divine, as - in my own translation now - the “two domains…of metaphysics and science are mutually exclusive, and a priori so.” (2001: 26) Wilber retorts in TPP (2001 a: 39/40), also online (2010)): “I agree with the points that Weis is making…only from within his own narrow definitions…If by 'science' we mean propositions ground in direct experiential evidence, then of course there is a 'proof' of God's existence, and it is called 'satori', the direct realization of the Suchness or Isness (tathagata) of the world. This is often called 'deep or broad science.'"

So for Wilber the existence of God has been proven to science, because there is what he calls broad or deep science. All Wilber does is to replace the notion of God by the notion of broad science. God exists, because broad science exists, with broad science standing for God now. So God exists, because broad science exists, means just this: God exists, because God exists. It is as simplistic as that. The existence of the Divine has been proven, because it has been proven. Weis does not believe in Wilber's spiritual, in his broad or deep science. So – contrary to Wilber - he does not believe in a God who exists, because he exists. This is the reason why Wilber considers Weis' line of argument to be refuted.

So we see a Ken Wilber again, who - in his circular line of reasoning – selects his definitions in advance to produce the results desired, here to refute Hans-Willi Weis' criticism of Wilber's science and religion argument.

Wilber concludes Part II of the online version of his response, by referring to Weis personally, stating: “We are all eagerly looking forward to his next round of criticism, although I'm sure that I will be forgiven if I don't respond, since I might have more important things to do, like feed my goldfish.”

Ken Wilber shall be forgiven, also in case he does not respond to the round of criticism, which is this article. Wilber, I understand, has more important things to do, like feed his goldfish.

Wilber versus Wilber

I do not know whether Ken Wilber is a Zen Buddhist, he might have surpassed these limiting qualifications. So I am not sure. I must say, however, that Ken Wilber, were he confronted with above line of argument, there would be no way for him to discard its final results. I do not mean the imagery, the wrapping, I mean the content, the crude facts uncovered, laid bare. I dare say that Wilber could not object to this, for he has already conceded to it all. So he writes in Quantum Questions: “There are no parallels whatsoever between physics....and mysticism, for the simple reason that Spirit...has no qualities with which it can be compared, contrasted, or paralleled. In order to compare Spirit with, say the findings of Physics, Spirit has to be assigned some sort of qualifications, or set-apart characteristics, at which point it ceases absolutely to be Spirit” (1984: 24)

This is what above deliberations tried to show, in order to refute Ken Wilber's own science and religion argument. Ken Wilber, so we saw, first defines religion as Spirit, as Emptiness devoid of all qualifications. Then he assigns to Spirit qualifications like his transcendental data to have it united with his sensory data pertaining to the physics of his sensory science. By assigning these qualifications to Spirit, It, to use his own words, ceases absolutely to be Spirit. It is no longer the Emptiness devoid of all content as defined by himself. So Ken Wilber in Quantum Questions (1984: 24) refutes his own line of argument.

Religion, the Transcendental, Emptiness is nothing, the physics of his sensory science, is something. Now Wilber tries to distinguish between Science and Religion, while at the same time uniting the two domains in what he calls “a most intimate embrace”.

When he wants to unite the two realms of his investigation Religion, Spirit becomes something with data neatly defined. When he wishes to distinguish between Spirit and Science, Spirit becomes Emptiness, becomes nothing devoid of all content.

“This science-and-religion argument consists of nothing more than a jockeying for definitions selected in advance to produce precisely the conclusions desired”, says Wilber in Quantum Questions (1984: 11) So Wilber again refutes his own science and religion argument.

Wilber himself employed above statement in order to reject Fritjof Capra's endeavours to integrate Spirit and modern physics. Capra in his own approach pushes for western society to abandon reductionist linear thought, which cannot not capture the findings of modern physics. In Quantum physics the elementary particles, for example, behave both like particles and waves. The movement of these particles is inherently random. It is physically impossible to know both the position and the momentum of a particle at the same time. The atomic world is nothing like the world we live in. The findings of modern physics lead to paradoxical results, which are inexorably leading to the same knowledge as the nameless Tao, which paradoxically brings forth all named things, an assertion that has been made by Capra (1975)

Capra tried to show that the findings of modern physics and the Tao, the nameless Sprit transgress the boundaries of conventional, of linear thought. They can only be conveyed, so Capra, in terms of a paradox. Now Wilber after having launched a major attack on Capra set out – in his own linear thought - to unite Spirit and the physics of his sensory science.

For Wilber Spirit is an Emptiness not to be named, when he wishes to distinguish Spirit and Science. It becomes an Emptiness qualified with set-apart characteristics, when he wishes to unite Spirit and Science. Thus he tries to present nothing as something, which is an impossible task. So his spiritual science, his transcendental data are a contradiction in terms. In trying to be both nothing and something they are neither one nor the other. So they do not have any real existence.

Wilber's transcendental is not the real transcendental, is not really nothing, devoid of all content, nor is it really something, holding a specific content. It is an illusory transcendental, an imaginary something, a pie in the sky, a transcendental cake born from Wilber's own imagination.

Wilber wants to see the transcendental reflected in his integral scheme. As the real transcendental is whole, Wilber wants to have his integral scheme undivided and whole. At the same time he wants to have it divided into the sensory, mental and transcendental data of his scientific exploration, which he digests and redigests throughout his later opus. So we see a Ken Wilber who wants to have his transcendental cake and eat it

Science has already been included in Religion

Let me raise another point. According to Wilber's evolutionary scheme “each higher level transcends but includes its predecessors.” (1998: 63) “Formal-operational” or rational thought occupies level 4, which is the realm of science. “Vision-logic”, says Wilber, is located on level 5. Next come “the psychic, the subtle, the causal” until all creation fulfills itself in the awareness of Emptiness, of “non-dual consciousness” (1998: 181). This is level 9, which is beyond all levels of evolution. (1998: 181) Now, all true religion, which is defined as transcendental consciousness, as Emptiness, resides on stage 9, which transcends and includes level 4, the realm of science. So why does Wilber try to integrate, to unite science with religion? Level 4 is included in level 9, which transcends level 4. Thus Science has already been integrated, united with religion. So Ken Wilber tries to accomplish an integration of science and religion which has already been achieved - according to his own integral scheme that is.

In the more recently published Collected Works Wilber writes: “What if science and religion were related, not as floors in a building, but as equal columns in a mansion.” (2000 b: 4). Only five pages later he states that “deep spirituality”, in terms of above definition of religion, “is the broad science of the higher levels of human development” (2000 b: 9) Now the higher level or floor in a mansion cannot at the same time be what Wilber calls the “equal columns of the mansion.” It is either one or the other, it cannot be both, as German philosopher Johannes Heinrichs underlined referring to the two quotes mentioned above. So Heinrichs, in his line of argument, tried to point out one of the more recent contradictions underlying Ken Wilber's integrating endeavours. (2003 a: 97)

Ken Wilber's One Taste

Ken Wilber with all his jockeing for definitions relishes in his integral scheme, while living in the state of nondual awareness throughout his waking and sleeping consciousness, as portrayed by himself in his day to day journals. So he writes in “One Taste”, standing for this nondual awareness: “I-I do not move through time, time moves through me. Just as clouds float through the sky, time floats through the open space of my primordial awareness, and I-I remains untouched by time and space and their complaints…I-I live in eternity and inhabit infinity…free of time and space.” This is the liberated state Ken Wilber relishes in, no matter what activity he is engaged in. “So this morning I went jogging”, he continues to say, “and nothing moved at all, except the scenery in the movie of my life.” (1999: 113)

“Wilber uses the words of One Taste to refer to the nondual experience of oneness of everything that exists – both in the inner world and in the outer world” of diversity. “This understanding which can be regarded as the most profound mystical experience”, confirms Frank Visser, “has been his constant companion in recent years.” (2003: 217) So also when engaged in jogging or jockeying, for definitions or other beloved objects, the blissful state of One Taste remains unperturbed, untouched.

Ken Wilber's Bodhisattva vow

Now Ken Wilber has not realized the liberated nondual state to be enjoyed by himself only. His “efforts are nothing short of a profound manifestation of the Bodhisattva vow to liberate all sentient beings.” (2004: IX)

“The Bodhisattva vow” (1981: 328) is made “to refuse enlightenment until all others can be charitably administered to and be uplifted to enlightenment”, (1981: 356), says Wilber in “Up From Eden”, and he adds: “There is to my mind no nobler conception than that.” (1981: 328) So the noble conception consists in delaying one's own realization of nondual consciousness, until all sentient beings have realized the supreme state.

Now, the way I see it, this is an aspiration that is impossible to fulfill. You cannot give to others what you have not realized yourself, be it truthfulness, a cheerful heart or a state of nondual awareness. So only someone, who himself has realized the liberated state of nondual consciousness, can impart it to others.

Now in “The Spectrum of Consciousness” Wilber states, that “the highest ideal of the mystic is that expressed by the Bodhisattva, who in Mahayana Buddhism is one who sees the Godhead everywhere and everywhen, in every person, place and thing. (1977: 299) So, according to Wilber's interpretation of Mahayana Buddhism, the Bodhisattva is one who has truly attained to the state of nondual consciousness, which Ken Wilber himself has realized. From this we may conclude that Ken Wilber, who has vowed to bestow the gift of perfect liberation upon mankind, is the Bodhisattva not of “Up From Eden”, but of “The Spectrum of Consciousness.”

The Jnana path as misunderstood by Ken Wilber

Now for the lofty goal of nondual awareness to be attained the Bodhisattva of the Spectrum of Consciousness asks “his readers to recognize the value of words and concepts as a means for going beyond words and concepts entirely to direct realization of emptiness or reality itself. This is also the path of jnana yoga” so we hear, “where one studies the world and accumulates knowledge, until they are cracked open to the mystery” of timeless nondual consciousness (2004: IX) “As a result the entire intellectual edifice dissolves into Suchness, and the integral map becomes a springboard into the waters of the Eternal Now”. (2004: X) This is the rare promise held out by the Bodhisattva of the Spectrum of Consciousness to the readers of his comprehensive oeuvre.

In the real Jnana yoga, though, you do not accumulate knowledge, as Wilber tries to make us believe. You much rather attempt to discard all knowledge that has been accumulated. This is the neti-neti search of the path of Jnana yoga, which is an assertion that nondual consciousness cannot be captured in human words, as Wilber tries to do throughout his writing. When we attempt to express nondual consciousness in terms of our linear logic we must inevitably fall short, for the very fact that words belong to the realm of duality, of logic, so they cannot express the nondual, the translogical, the Divine.

Thus the neti-neti search becomes a tool to Self-realisation, comparable to apophatic theology in Eastern Christianity. You say “it isn't this, but also, it isn't that either". When the inquiry has been successfully completed, all concepts of the Divine, of Brahman are gone never to return. Only the Divine, Emptinesss remains devoid of all qualifications and thought.

The Jnana yoga, which Ken Wilber has in mind, wishes to accumulate knowledge. This includes knowledge of the three strands of all valid knowing with 1. a paradigm leading to 2. sensory, mental, transcendental data that require 3. a checking of the results (1998: 156). And there is so much more knowledge to be accumulated as part of Ken Wilber's vast “Theory of Everything.”

Jnana Yoga in its neti-neti search wants to discard all knowledge. Ken Wilber compiled his comprehensive work not to be ignored but to be appreciated by an interested readership. So he wishes his readers to accumulate the various pieces of his writing as part of his bold integral scheme. Therefore Ken Wilber, jockeying for definitions again, defines the Jnana way of discarding all knowledge as a path of accumulating the knowledge as elaborated upon in his comprehensive oeuvre.

Holding on to a concept while discarding it

This does not prevent Ken Wilber from realizing that all “so-called paths are really obstacles” (1991: 372) Thus his path of accumulating knowledge is presented as an obstacle now, which must be removed for nondual consciousness to arise. That is why he wishes “his readers to recognize the value of words and concepts as a means for going beyond words and concepts.” (2004: IX) This means Wilber wants the words and concepts of his writing to be accumulated in order to be discarded by the reader.

“The integral search succeeds by letting go of the search itself”, says Ken Wilber, “so that one abandons a theory of everything in order simply to be Everything, one with the All.” (2000 a: 141) Wilber asks the reader to engage in his theory of everything in order to abandon his theory of everything, to pursue the integral search to liberate himself from the integral burden, to accumulate the knowledge of his integral scheme to have “the entire intellectual edifice dissolve into Suchness… into the waters of the Eternal Now”. (2004: X)

To see how Wilber's scheme works out in real life, I would like to ask the reader to think of a cake. I do not mean the Bodhisattva's transcendental cake. I mean a real cake, with some real cream and strawberries on it. Think for a minute of this strawberry cake. Now I ask you not to think of this strawberry cake. Carry on the exercise for another minute.

Minute over now. What happened? Well, I guess you were thinking of the strawberry cake most of the time. You can't help thinking of the delicious cake. If you were not, you would not be able to know what you are not supposed to think of. So the very effort not to think of the cake makes you think of it. So next time you really want to concentrate on something, try not to think of the very thing you want to focus your attention on. While doing so, your attention will be automatically drawn to the item in question. So the task of concentration has been successfully completed by not trying to accomplish it.

Now Wilber does not ask his readers to first think of the concepts of his writing, then not to think of them. He wants his readers to think of his words and concepts while going beyond the very same words and concepts. (2004: IX). He wishes his readers to hold these concepts in their minds, while not thinking of them. He wants the reader to hold on to the search, the theory, the very knowledge, which he is asked to abandon.

So just try to think of the words, the concepts introduced by Wilber in his integral theory of everything. Think for example of Hamlet, of the joys of war, of sunken treasure, of picnic and Yellowstone Park, while not holding these concepts in your mind. You will see that the intended project cannot possibly be realized. So the method presented by Wilber is an ultimately contradictory enterprise.

Ken Wilber has devoted his writing to an integral search, which is a search for Emptiness, for the Divine. “The integral search”, however, says Wilber, only “succeeds by letting go of the search itself…so that one abandons a theory of everything in order simply to be Everything, one with the All in this endless awareness that holds the Kosmos kindly in its hand…and never again will you search for a mere theory” (2000 a: 141) says Ken Wilber.

So we see a Ken Wilber, who holds on to his theory of everything in order to rise beyond his all inclusive theory. This is the inner contradiction, his own conflict, which he projects on to the reader of his opus. Thus he invites the reader to wholeheartedly embrace his theory in order to radically let go of it. So we see a devoted reader who is trying to pull himself up into the air by his beloved reader's hair. A self-liberating maneuver that is, which entails a self-defeating enterprise.

On Wilber's theory of everything

You do not let go of this theory of everything by dearly embracing it. You abandon the theory by realizing that it is built on an inherent contradiction. This is a point, which has been elaborated upon by Harald Walach, German professor for complementary medicine research, in his article. (2003 b: 68)

Walach, in his own line of argument, refers to Kurt Gödel, who, in his incompleteness theorem, showed that the ideas of completeness and consistency are mutually exclusive, when applied to an identical theory. A system, which is consistent, cannot be complete within itself, a system, which is complete, cannot be self-consistent. So Wilber's theory of everything, which tries to be complete within itself, cannot be consistent within itself. It must necessarily contradict itself. This also applies to the individual items of Wilber's theory, like his broad or deep science. With God and everything included in it, it is self-contradictory, as this article tried to show.

My own argument is quite simple: All thought, all concepts are relative. With no low, bad, weak in the world, the concepts of high, good, strong could not even be articulated in human speech. This also applies to more abstract, theoretical concepts, which can only be seen in opposition to what they are not. A conceptual theory can only be conceived of as contrasted with what the theory is not, which would be a different theory. With only one theory in the world, there would be no theory at all. Now Wilber's theory pretends to be a theory of everything, with nothing left out. So there is nothing left to be included in a different theory. Leaving no room for another theory, his one theory cannot even be conceived of as a theory.

Thus Wilber's theory of everything again reveals itself as a contradiction in terms, with all other complete theories crumbling, dissolving within themselves. This is the real way to “never again…search for a mere theory” (2000 a: 141) of everything, as Wilber demanded. His own approach, on the other hand, makes you stick to the very theory, which you are supposed to abandon. The only way to rise above this theory of everything is to see the basic contradiction, on which it is built. So it dissolves from within. .

The outcome of Wilber's integrating endeavours

Ken Wilber, contemplating on the outcome of his integrating endeavours, believes that his grand vision of “bringing science and religion together in a most intimate embrace” (1998: 25) has been perfectly accomplished. Thus, as a final result of his theory of everything, he sees a “Kosmos” that “hangs together” “unified as a uni-verse, as one song” (1996: 24).

Wilber's “Kosmos”, however, “unified as a uni-verse, as one song” cannot be established in terms of our linear logic. Thought will always be divisive. By its very nature it cannot be nondual, undivided and whole. Wilber tries to grasp, to analyze what can only be seen in nondual awareness. So he inadvertently engages in a metaphysical project, in which we do not believe any more in a post-metaphysical era.

A Theory of Everything in the German language

In Germany, where „A Theory of Everything“ (2000 a) is widely read, the original title has been converted to “Ganzheitlich handeln”, which, loosely translated, means “Integral practice”. I understand a publishing company is not a charitable organization. It wants to sell books to a German readership, who do not believe in a Theory of Everything. We have a saying in German, which says “alles und nichts”, meaning that everything (alles) is like nothing (nichts) at all, is empty, devoid of content. So in German „eine Theorie von allem“ does not sound like one song, one Kosmos, like this one uni-verse all completed, all united. It sounds much rather like an artificial theory, a theoretical artefact, containing a heap of jumbled thoughts. A nonsense theory that is, which may run something like this:

Thoughting in my think thunk, I thunk all thoughts to be thoughted. Do you have any I(ntelligent) Q(uestions)? Yes, I do. I do not hear this one song of the universe you are speaking of, so my IQ is: Do you have in your think thunk a hearing-aid for me, so that I may accompany you in the one song to be thoughted.

It may very well sound like this in the linguistic connotations of “alles” und “nichts” of the German language. This is not so, I understand, in the English language, in which Ken Wilber develops his comprehensive oeuvre.

Wilber's orienting generalizations

For want of space the present article confined itself to one item mainly of Wilber's all-embracing theory, which is his science and religion argument. So there was no mention of the 21 integral charts of his Integral Psychology (2000: 197-217), which include thinkers, philosophers, spiritual leaders, ranging from Greek antiquity to a post-post modern age, to be all united in what Ken Wilber calls his “orienting generalizations”.

Here the “Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe” (Collected Works) with its 354 volumes finds itself reduced to six or seven evolutionary stages as portrayed on one of Wilber's charts. (2000: 204). In a brief observation, made on Steiner's comprehensive work, Ken Wilber adds: “I have not found the details of his presentations to be that useful. I believe recent orthodox research has offered better and more accurate maps of prepersonal to personal development.” (2000: 228, footnote 11)

Here we have an example of Ken Wilber's “orienting generalizations”. The generalization is specific enough, though, to misrepresent Steiner's comprehensive oeuvre. For Steiner a theory reduced to a map would be a Geistscience that has become useless like an outworn garment. He wanted a theory revealing itself from within, in the manner of Goethe's Geistscience, which he highly esteemed. Steiner and Goethe, in their own organic approach, tried to uncover the mystery of all life as a process unfolding itself endlessly, to be born anew in the hearts and minds of their readers. This stands in contrast to Wilber's own approach displayed in maps and charts, all completed. By stating that there are better and more accurate evolutionary maps, Wilber implies that Steiner wanted to have his theory reduced to an evolutionary map, which Steiner definitely did not. Wilber wishes to have Steiner's work measured by his own evolutionary map, which he finds superior. So in his orienting generalization he misinterprets Steiner's voluminous oeuvre to have it suit his own integral scheme or map again.

We cannot deal here with other items located on any of the 21 charts, nor can we go into anything else in Wilber's vast theory of everything. For want of space we had to confine ourselves to Wilber's science and religion argument, to point out some major contradictions of his oeuvre only, which, for a brief summary, are listed below:

Five major contradictions

Ken Wilber's theory of everything, as has been shown, is a contradiction in terms (1) It comprises his science and religion argument, which, taken by itself, is contradictory again (2) His integrating endeavours finally lead to a “Kosmos” that “hangs together”, ultimately, “unified as a uni-verse, as one song”, which is one more contradiction. .” (3) (1966: 24)

“A rose is a rose” says Zen. A song is a song, a theory is a theory. A song is complete in itself. A theory of everything is not, and there is no way to complete it by making it something, which it is not. So Wilber's one theory of everything transmuted into one song of everything represents a new contradiction (3) encased in above contradictions (1) and (2).

Let us assume for a moment, though, that Ken Wilber is right, that he has conclusively shown that his theory of everything “hangs together”, like a “Kosmos”, “unified as a uni-verse, as one song”, (1966: 24), with “the awareness of a radiant God” even, rising from “those newly legitimated interiors.” (1998: 155)

This would mean that the reader, who has gone resolutely through the twenty volumes or so of this theory of everything, finds himself in the end abundantly rewarded. As an outcome of his ongoing exploration the one universe, the one God reveals itself to the reader's supreme vision. This means nothing less than a state of unity consciousness that has been realized in recompense for the meticulous study undertaken by the devoted reader. So there would be every reason to plunge even more profoundly into this theory of everything, to become immersed ever more deeply in the awareness of the radiant God who has blissfully revealed himself. Wilber, however, quite abruptly demands that his theory of everything, with all the words and concepts included in it, be discarded, which is one more contradiction (4) enclosed in previous contradictions (1 – 3).

Moreover Wilber does not want his theory of everything to be merely abandoned. Wilber contradicting himself another time (5) wishes the reader to discard his theory while confidently holding onto it, relishing in the radiant God, who rose from his all-inclusive scheme.

For Wilber Spirit is an Emptiness not to be named, when he wishes to distinguish Spirit and Science. It becomes an Emptiness qualified with set-apart characteristics, when he wishes to unite Spirit and Science. Thus he tries to present nothing as something, which is an impossible task. So his spiritual science, his transcendental data are a contradiction in terms. In trying to be both nothing and something they are neither one nor the other. So they do not have any real existence.

Wilber's transcendental is not the real transcendental, is not really nothing, devoid of all content, nor is it really something, holding a specific content. It is an illusory transcendental, an imaginary something, a pie in the sky, a transcendental cake born from Wilber's own imagination.

Wilber wants to see the transcendental reflected in his integral scheme. As the real transcendental is whole, Wilber wants to have his integral scheme undivided and whole. At the same time he wants to have it divided into the sensory, mental and transcendental data of his scientific exploration, which he digests and redigests throughout his later opus. So we see a Ken Wilber who wants to have his transcendental cake and eat it

I just fell in love with Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy, I must concede, which Ken Wilber might understand, who “just fell in love with ideas”, as he states. So much in love with his ideas he is that he may remain unconcerned with our objections. So he contemplates on the outcome of his integrating endeavours, to confidently conclude that the three spheres of science can now “be genuinely united....and integrated under the auspices of a deep science that is as operative in profound mystical experience as in geology, as applicable....in hermeneutics as in physics.. each....united by the thread of direct....evidence.” (1998: 177)

So Wilber, with seemingly no doubt in his mind, is confident that the disparate patches of thought have been mended, blended together, to be perfectly united in his complete theory of everything. Thus his grand vision of “bringing science and religion together in a most intimate embrace” (1998: 25) has been accomplished. So he sees a “Kosmos” that “hangs together”, “unified as a uni-verse, as one song” (1996: 24).

Yes, he even sees “hidden somewhere in those newly legitimated interiors the awareness of a radiant God” (1998: 155) to be revealed to the devoted reader. So one would presume that the reader, who has attained to the supreme vision, finds herself inspired to dive even more profoundly into Wilber's oeuvre, to become immersed ever more deeply in the experience of the radiant God rising from this all-inclusive scheme.

What an excitement, what an enlightenment that is

Ken Wilber, however, in an abrupt denial of the glorious outcome of his undertaking declares that the “integral search succeeds by letting go of the search itself…so that one abandons a theory of everything in order simply to be Everything, one with the All in this endless awareness that holds the Kosmos kindly in its hand. And then”, continues the Bodhisattva, “the true Mystery yields itself, the face of spirit secretly smiles, the Sun rises in your very own heart and the Earth becomes your very own body, galaxies rush through your veins, while the stars light up the neurons of your night, and never again will you search for a mere theory of that which is actually your own Original face.” (2000 a: 141) So ends Ken Wilber's A Theory of Everything.

Now with the galaxies rushing through our veins, “we are called, you and I”- the “I” standing for the Bodhisattva himself - “to witness the liberation of all sentient beings without exception. And on the distant, silent horizon, gentle as fog, quiet as tears, the voice continues to call.“ (1998: 214) So ends “The Marriage of Sense and Soul” with the voice of the Bodhisattva calling in the year of 1998. In 2007 the voice continues to call:

„It's a new time, it's a new day, it's a new dawn, it's a new man, it's a new woman. If you want to stand at the leading edge, identified with Eros itself, and push into new territories of your own deepest and highest possibilities, changing the world as you do, please join us at www.integralinstitute.org“, (2007: 74). So ends Appendix II of Integral Spirituality.

For the reader, who is ready to become more deeply immersed in this startling integral scheme, please note, “integral institute offers seminars, workshops, courses, online material, and home study kits…If you are interested please see www.MyILP.com”, (2007: 205) says Ken Wilber.

So you are all cordially invited to follow the Bodhisattva on his Jnana Yoga path, to rise beyond all paths, with “the stars lighting up the neurons of your night”, (2000 a: 141) to “witness the liberation of all sentient beings” (1998: 214) from ignorance and earthly bondage. You are called to lighten the way for the liberation of all mankind to be realized, within the charts and maps of the well-defined framework of Wilber's integral scheme. In this wondrous mission to be accomplished you are not left alone. You find yourself caringly supported by integral seminars, by the Integral Life Practice (ILP) kits to be studied in your private home.

These are kits not for kids to be sure. They are kits destined for the new man, for the new woman, who are standing at the leading edge of humanity, qualified as the new evolutionaries by Pandit Ken Wilber and Guru Andrew Cohen. These kits are “A BETTER PATH TO THE POWER OF NOW”, says the caption of www.MyILP.com to outshine Eckhart's Tolle The Power of Now (1999 a), which sold three million copies around the world.

In Evolutionary enlightenment there is a path to be pursued for a glorious future to come. In Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now there is no path to be followed. The Power is right here, to be realized Now. This does not present a problem for Wilber's integral scheme. The Power of Now finds itself effortlessly integrated into this new evolutionary enlightenment. Thus we have the ever-present Now and a glorious future to come included in Wilber's all-inclusive scheme.

For the integral POWER OF NOW to be realized, “ORDER NOW”, says www.MyILP.com. It is implied that you will be greatly rewarded, for “'in Integral Life Practice the essential teachings from a thousand years of culture, ritual, and thought are gathered and distilled to create a personalized program that will show you how to attain a higher level of awareness and find the unshakable ability to handle life in all its unpredictable splendor'”, announces ILP luminary “Anthony Robbins, Best-selling author, Awaken the Giant Within and Unlimited Power.”

Go to www.MyILP.com for all this and much more. You will hear of “light bulbs”, which “will be going on one after another as you…reintegrate shadow aspects”. You may see, why Ken Wilber's “One Taste is not a metaphysical pie in the sky”, not a transcendental cake, “but rather something very tangible.”

 Google “WHAT enlightenment??!” to find out yourself about enlightenment, about Pandit Ken Wilber and Rude Boy Andrew Cohen, closely united in their “radical dialogues on enlightenment and the Evolution of Consciousness”.

“Rude Boys…breathe fire, eat hot coals, will roast your ass…and fry your ego”, says the Pandit in a “foreword by Ken Wilber” to Andrew Cohen's “living enlightenment, a call for evolution beyond ego” (2002). “Andrew Cohen is a Rude Boy (2002: XVI), uncompromising, brutal, laser-like”, (2002: XV) he continues. For the spiritual seeker “it will, in fact, be hell” (2002: XVI), concludes the Pandit.

Spiritual seekers who stayed for permanent residence in Rude Boy's Sangha in Foxhollow, MA, USA, report that “it is hell”, that “it is a torture chamber” to live in. For this see the “WHAT enlightenment??!” blog, read the Mother of God (Luna Tarlo), Enlightenment Blues (Andre van der Braak), American Guru (William Yenners). Physical assault was reported, like regular face-slapping delivered by Andrew Cohen and devotees on disciples who do not comply with Rude Boy's orders. This was in no way refuted by the Guru, who authentically believes in what he resolutely does. So when the Pandit proclaims “it will, in fact, be hell” to become devoted to Rude Boy, he is to be taken quite seriously, when Foxhollow hell of Rude Guru Boy is concerned.

“Andrew's magazine What is Enlightenment?”, now called EnlightenNext, ”is the only magazine I know that is deeply, truly, outrageously Rude…slaughtering the sacred cows” (2002: XVII), continues the Pandit, to whom the Guru refers as the great Ken Wilber. In the regular “The Guru and the Pandit” talks of the magazine the responses given by both the Guru and the Pandit are in the manner of “definitely, certainly, indeed, yes, absolutely, exactly right, that's all too true, beautifully put, right on the mark.”

Listen (youtube) to Wilber & Cohen, go to the “guru & pandit” (google) talks of EnlightenNext Magazine (google) to witness Wilber & Cohen, so intimately associated in their revolutionary “evolutionary enlightenment” talks, slaughtering the sacred cows, standing in the “BETTER PATH TO THE POWER OF NOW”. So they clear the way for the new evolutionaries to move on to an enlightened future as enthusiastically envisaged by the great Ken Wilber and the Rude Guru Boy. What an excitement, what an enlightenment that is, you may silently wonder.

Conclusion

Wilber first qualifies his spiritual science as Spirit, Emptiness, the Absolute, which transcends all thought. For a phenomenon to be taken seriously by his sensory science, three strands of all valid knowing must be fulfilled. These are, so Wilber, a paradigm (1) leading to data (2) that are confirmed or rejected (3) by a community of those who have completed the same injunctive practice.

To exemplify what is meant by paradigm, Wilber mentions among other spiritual practices, contemplative prayer, yoga, meditation, zazen. A spiritual practice, however, like meditating on a mantra, does not have anything in common with a paradigm of sensory science, like looking through a telescope to detect some distant galaxy. So the concept of paradigm does not serve to unite spiritual and sensory science. Thus strand 1 does not apply.

The spiritual practice, if it bears fruit, will lead to kensho or satori, to the experience of Emptiness. These are, according to Wilber, the data of spiritual science, now defined as transcendental data. Data have a mental content, however subtle this content may be. The transcendental data, though, are devoid of all content, because they stand for Emptiness, for the Great Void, which, to use Wilber's own words, is transverbal, is not of the mind but of no-mind. So there is nothing in the world that this data could possibly relate to. Thus the concept of transcendental data is a contradiction in terms. They are data that do not exist, so they cannot be integrated with the data of sensory science that do exist. Thus strand 2 is not capable of uniting spiritual and sensory science either.

Now Wilber tells us that his transcendental data have to be checked (confirmed or rejected) by a community of those who have completed the injunctive strands. The transcendental data, however, do not exist as such, so there is nothing to be confirmed or rejected. A confirmation has a mental content, depends on thoughts, phrases, words that are uttered. Transcendental consciousness, however, is beyond words, is pure Emptiness devoid of all thought. Thus it cannot be confirmed or rejected by a community of those who have completed the same injunctive practice. So strand 3 does not apply either.

For Wilber Spirit is an Emptiness not to be named, when he wishes to distinguish Spirit and Science. It becomes an Emptiness qualified with set-apart characteristics, when he wishes to unite Spirit and Science. Thus he tries to present nothing as something, which is an impossible task. So his spiritual science, his transcendental data are a contradiction in terms. In trying to be both nothing and something they are neither one nor the other. So they do not have any real existence.

Wilber's transcendental is not the real transcendental, is not really nothing, devoid of all content, nor is it really something, holding a specific content. It is an illusory transcendental, an imaginary something, a pie in the sky, a transcendental cake born from Wilber's own imagination.

Wilber wants to see the transcendental reflected in his integral scheme. As the real transcendental is whole, Wilber wants to have his integral scheme undivided and whole. At the same time he wants to have it divided into the sensory and transcendental data of his scientific exploration, which he digests and redigests throughout his opus. So we see a Ken Wilber who wants to have his transcendental cake and eat it.

Ken Wilber firmly holds on to what he qualifies as his integral theory of everything. At the same time he wants to surpass his theory for nondual awareness to be revealed. You do not go beyond a theory by embracing it, though. You abandon a theory by realizing that it is built on an inherent contradiction.

According to Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorem Wilber's theory of everything, which tries to be complete within itself, cannot be consistent within itself. It must necessarily contradict itself. This also applies to the individual items of Wilber's theory. With his spiritual and sensory science included in it, it is self-contradictory. Looking more closely there is a whole series of contradictions involved in Wilber's integral Theory of Everything, as the article tries to show.

Wilber's integral scheme consists of a line of evolutionary stages, with each lower level included in a successive higher level of development. Here we have a line of contradictions now, with each lower contradiction incorporated in a higher contradiction.

The picture of a set of matryoshkas presents itself to the mind, with a wooden figure revealing a smaller figure of the same sort inside, which has, in turn another figure incorporated in it and so on, like Wilber's contradictions, with one contradiction included in another. A series of successive contradictions that is, all incorporated in the ultimate contradiction, which is Wilber's all-inclusive theory of everything.

Some of the issues elaborated upon have been raised by a number of German critics, dealt with in this article.

Wilber states that his books have been written on the level of a higher logic, defined as vision-logic, which is a rather dubious concept, when seen in the light of above analysis.

Let me conclude by stating that the issue is subtle. So maybe I have been misled by my own train of thought. There might be something which I did not realize, I did not see. If this is so, just tell me. All comments, positive and negative, will be appreciated. I will be glad to respond. (email: martin@satsa.de)

References

All literature is listed by date of publication at the end, for quick reference.

Capra, Fritjof, The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism, Shambhala, 1975.

Wilber, Ken, The Spectrum of Consciousness, Theosophical Publishing House, 1977.

Wilber, Ken, Up From Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution, Wheaton, 1981.

Wilber, Ken as Editor, Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World's Great Physicists, Shambala, 1984.

Wilber, Ken, Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber, Gill & Macmillan, 1991.

Wilber, Ken, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, Shambala, 1995.

Wilber, Ken, A Brief History of Everything, Gill & Macmillian, 1996.

Wilber, Ken, The Eye of Spirit: An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad, Shambahala, 1997.

Wilber, Ken, The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion, Random House, 1998.

Wilber Ken, One Taste: the Journals of Ken Wilber, Shambhala, 1999.

Eckhart Tolle, THE POWER OF NOW, Hodder & Stoughton, 1999 a.

Wilber, Ken, Integral Psychology: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World, Shambala, 2000.

Wilber, Ken, A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science, and Spirituality, Shambhala, 2000 a.

Wilber, Ken, The Collected Works of Ken Wilber, volume 8, 2000 b.

Weiss, Hans-Willi, Ken Wilbers Transpersonale Systemspekulation: Eine kritische Auseinandersetzung, in Transpersonale Psychologie und Psychotherapie, 2001, 2, 2001.

Wilber, Ken, On the Nature of a Post-Metaphysical Spirituality: Response to Habermas and Weis, http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/misc/habermas/index.cfm/, Shambhala, 2001.

Wilber, Ken, in German version as: Vom Wesen einer postmetaphysischen Spiritualität, in Transpersonale Psychologie und Psychotherapie, 2001, 2, 2001 a.

Cohen, Andrew, living enlightenment: a call for evolution beyond ego, Moksha Press, 2002.

Visser, Frank, Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion, State University of New York Press, 2003.

Heinrichs, Johannes, Fragen an den ‚integralen' Denkansatz Ken Wilbers, im Dialog über die Seele, Transpersonale Psychologie und Christlicher Glaube, Lit Verlag AG Münster, 2003 a.

Walach, Heinrich, Transpersonale Psychologie: Chancen und Probleme, im Dialog über die Seele, Transpersonale Psychologie und Christlicher Glaube, Lit Verlag AG Münster, 2003 b.

Wilber, Ken, The Simple Feeling of Being, Shambala, 2004.

Wilber, Ken, Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World, Shambhala, 2007.




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